February 9, 2016


What Republicans Lose If Jeb Bush Fails (Francis Wilkinson, 2/09/16, Bloomberg View)

The Republican National Committee's famously ineffectual "Growth and Opportunity Project," issued in early 2013, urged the party to pass comprehensive immigration reform as a way to reach out to Hispanic and Asian voters who had shunned the party's 2012 nominee. That didn't happen. In this campaign, Trump has dominated the debate, lingering over the fine points of deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, most of whom are Hispanic and many of whom have American family or friends.

Rubio has probably worn out his welcome with voters who care about this -- on both sides of the divide. He ran against "amnesty" in his 2010 race before making immigration reform his baby and then, when the going got tough, abandoned it to the wolves. Conservative immigration restrictionists don't appear willing to forgive or forget; many revile Rubio for switching sides. Apparently, he elicits similar feelings among many immigration supporters. One activist assured me that if Rubio makes it into a general election, he will face blistering criticism, including in Spanish, for his betrayal. [...]

But Bush's family cuts two ways. His Mexican-American wife represents a visceral commitment to immigration, assimilation and a broad definition of the American Dream. Bush is obviously comfortable in Hispanic culture. And he would be able to make the case, speaking in fluent Spanish himself if necessary, that he stuck to his pro-immigration stand, risked his campaign by battling Trump and the demagogues -- and won. That could be worth a lot.

A December poll of battleground states by Latino Decisions, whose principals also work for Clinton's campaign, showed Bush was the only Republican candidate with a net positive rating among Hispanic voters. (Rubio, by contrast, was a net -8.)

Moreover, Bush is knowledgeable enough to think on his feet and experienced, having spent eight years as a popular governor of one of the largest states. Just in case some Republicans out there still think evidence that a candidate can actually succeed at the job is in any way relevant.

Posted by at February 9, 2016 12:10 PM