By Peter Wallsten and David Nakamura
The Washington Post
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who has remained on the sidelines since his older brother left the White House with dismal ratings four years ago, has jumped back into the political fray this week with a new book, wall-to-wall television interviews and a round of public speaking engagements.
His appearances mark a change in approach for Bush, 60, who has operated as more of a Republican elder statesman since leaving Tallahassee in 2007 but is now clearly considering a run for the White House.
In interview after interview this week, Bush, who had long dismissed the suggestion of a presidential run, spoke openly about his thinking on the matter, and his longtime political adviser, Sally Bradshaw, said Tuesday in an interview that Bush “will seriously think about it.”
“This is a guy who has big ideas and cares deeply about the future of the party and hopes to play a role in the rebirth of the party, but at what level I don’t think he knows,” Bradshaw said.
Bush, whose name last appeared on a ballot more than a decade ago, learned the difficulties Tuesday of navigating the fast-changing fault lines of the modern-day Republican Party.
Almost as soon as he unveiled his book “Immigration Wars” — which proposes giving legal status to undocumented immigrants but requiring them to return home before pursuing citizenship — Bush was criticized by Republicans who questioned his motives and timing.
He has long favored giving illegal immigrants a chance to gain citizenship and has frequently voiced concern that Republicans who expressed a more restrictive view were alienating Hispanic voters. The position he lays out in his book puts him more in line with his party’s base — the kind of thing a potential presidential contender would be mindful of.