What's in a name? A lot if it's 'Bush'

As he officially declares his presidential candidacy, Jeb Bush confronts his family name and its legacy.

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    Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, is expected to officially declare his candidacy on June 15 [Reuters]
    Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, is expected to officially declare his candidacy on June 15 [Reuters]
    Mention the word "Bush" in the US and you’ll instantly start a debate. It’s a name that is as controversial as it is memorable.

    George W Bush served in the office of the presidency for eight years, while his father, George Herbert Walker Bush, served for four years, and was vice president for eight years.

    As George W's younger brother Jeb Bush also makes a run for the White House, it appears his last name may be the hardest thing for him to overcome.

    "I think there’s Bush fatigue," former Republican Senator Tom Coburn told a reporter this week.

    "The fact is his last name will kill 47 percent cent of the vote."

    Coburn is, of course, primarily referring to President Bush, Barack Obama’s predecessor who left office in 2009 while the country was mired in two wars and the economy was a mess.

    Jeb Bush has been in Europe all week trying to earn some street credibility with foreign policy wonks before an expected announcement for a presidential bid.

    In a speech in Berlin, Germany on Tuesday, he didn’t bother to mention his brother but spent most of his time reminding audience members that his father, Bush Sr, helped transform the Soviet Union and bring down the Berlin Wall.

    Is avoiding his brother’s legacy the way to go? Yes, says Kyle Kondik from the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

    "One of Jeb’s biggest problems is that he is a legacy candidate in a party that is increasingly wary of the party’s establishment."

    Kondik also agrees with Coburn’s "Bush fatigue" assessment.

    "It makes sense for him to try to create his own identity to the extent he can."

    But Brad Blakeman, a Republican strategist who was a senior adviser to President George W Bush, disagrees with Coburn’s analysis saying it’s "without merit and without substance".

    Blakeman said Jeb Bush has a challenge ahead of him but his goal is to "distinguish" himself rather than “avoid” his brother’s legacy.

    "It’s not his job to talk about his brother,” he told Al Jazeera. "He has to talk about himself."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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