Jeb Bush Has Winning, `Broad-Based’ Appeal: Cohen

William S. Cohen

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

William S. Cohen

Bill Cohen has played with both sides of the aisle.

The Republican former defense secretary for President Bill Clinton served three terms each in the House and Senate.

And the way he sees it, Florida’s Jeb Bush has the best credentials for carrying his party through the middle of the field in 2016.

“I think he would be a great candidate to appeal to the broad spectrum of the American people,” Cohen said in an interviewing for Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend.

The tough part, Cohen says, is the party’s divisive primary contest.

“He may have some difficulty getting through a primary if he decides to run,” Cohen said of Bush, “but I think if the Republican Party looks at winning as opposed to appealing to the narrower base of the Republican Right, Jeb Bush would be the kind of candidate I think would really gather broad-based support.”

Bush, a former two-term governor of Florida, is the son of one former president and brother of another. He has said he will decided by the end of this year about making his own bid for the presidency in 2016, with those closest to him seeing that as unlikely.

In the meantime, Bush has been traveling on behalf of his party’s 2014 candidates and appealing to the party to moderate its tone in some of the most bitter public debates — particularly immigration.

Bush has called the ambition of immigrants crossing the border illegally to feed their families “an act of love.” He had cautioned the party’s 2012 nominee for president, Mitt Romney, to dial back his rhetoric after Romney spoke of deportation of the undocumented.

On that front, Bush sounded much like President Barack Obama, who said in a question and answer session at the White House today: “We shouldn’t be in the business of tearing families apart who are otherwise law-abiding.”

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