The likelihood of such a scenario actually playing out remains relatively low. But should Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum capture the Texas primary, which by virtue of having been moved farther back of the schedule can qualify as a “winner take all” state, the race could be placed in a tailspin.
Dissatisfaction with the current GOP field seems high, but can easily be written off to candidates who have been overexposed through too many debates and a goofy string of “proportional” primaries and caucuses virtually guaranteed to make the candidates battle to the death. Regardless, the longer this GOP presidential road show lasts, the greater the chances that something occurs to actually force Republicans to abandon their “field of dreams” and examine alternatives.
Should this bizarre concept of a late summer brokered convention conducted in the hottest days in Florida actually take place, there are plenty of names that would be added to the current mix of candidates, including Sarah Palin, who explicitly said that she would not shut the door on a nomination should it come her way. Palin has won over a vast number of conservative and Republican skeptics in the past few years by serving as a steady and thoughtful voice for her party.
But I have a guess as to the name that the delegates, if given the choice to be free to choose on their own, would gravitate to in a hurry. That name is Jeb Bush.
It’s not that the former Florida governor wants the thing. If Bush has plans for the White House, it would likely be four years from now, if at all. But given the fact that the nominee would have only two solid months to campaign against an increasingly strong Barack Obama, who will have money to spare and a media declaring the economy on a roll, it would take a seasoned superstar to rescue the GOP. The idea of a national convention filled with fighting and bargaining would be too much for anyone but a huge name with built-in connections and not a part of the war to survive.
Jeb Bush left his position as governor a very popular man. He was viewed by most as a conservative, creative and extremely savvy leader. The Republican-dominated legislature sometimes viewed him as a bit heavy handed, but that comes with the territory when one is a governor.
Most analysts would say “the country would never elect another Bush as president.” They are nuts. Bush could debate Obama in a manner that would shock not only Democrats, but moderates as well. This guy is fast on his feet, knows public policy inside and out, and is no stranger to the presidency.
As for any comparisons to his father or brother and their presidencies, the nation would get a taste of the best of both men. There would be no question about whether Jeb Bush could meet the interests of the conservative side of the GOP. The good news is that he is strong in his convictions, and he is able to articulate them in a very positive way. There would be no ability for the press to unfairly characterize him as inarticulate or not bright. They got away with it to some extent under his brother’s administration — which is pretty ironic because they drooled over interviews with him when he released his autobiography.
In the case of Jeb Bush, it is obvious you are dealing with a very smart guy who will get the best of most in any press conference or tangle with the media. It would be a blast to watch the media’s frustration trying to deal with him.
The real issue is whether anyone could convince Bush to accept a nomination in 2012.
Matt Towery of Vinings heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.