Jeb Bush is “open” to running for president in 2016.
So says Al Cardenas, a longtime political associate and friend of the former Florida governor.
Open, Cardenas noted today — nothing more, not committed, simply open.
For his part, Bush says he has not ruled out a run for the Republican Party’s nomination.
Not ruled out and open may be two ways of saying the same thing.
Nevertheless, all this represents a significant shift in the expressions of a politician who in the past has brushed aside entreaties to re-enter elective politics. Last year, the brother of one former president and son of another said he viewed 2012 as that “window of opportunity” for him — “this was probably my time,” he told Charlie Rose on CBS News’ “This morning.” At same time, asked if he had “made a decision that you don’t want to be president,” Bush replied: “I have not made that decision.”
Bush’s book-promoting tour of the Washington media circuit last week, including a run of several Sunday talk shows following the release of his “Immigration Wars,” certainly helped spur new speculation about his plans for 2016.
Cardenas, a Miami lawyer who served two terms as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida during Bush’s two-term reign of the Sunshine State, maintains that the book was not motivated by thoughts of 2016 — rather, a deep interest in the issue and a desire to help the party rebuild its relationship with Hispanic voters. Cardenas supports a bid for comprehensive immigration reform and also supports Bush’s stated attempts to seek a compromise on citizenship or residency for the millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.
Cardenas also is chairman of the American Conservative Union, convening an annual meeting at National Harbor outside of Washington later this week that will draw many of the party’s conservative leaders — including an appearance by Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president who hasn’t spoken in a forum such as this since November. Cardenas, joining a Bloomberg editor and reporter over lunch at National Harbor today, said Romney accepted his invitation several weeks ago without pause and has no plans to “re-hash the campaign.”
The Conservative Political Action Conference, celebrating its 40th year, will hear from the likes of Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, also viewed as potential 2016 White House prospects. They will join some 50 senators, congressmen, governors and others — including New York-based real estate developer Donald Trump — addressing the conference’s main assembly over three days starting Thursday.
The keynote speaker at CPAC Friday night: Jeb Bush.