Republican’s campaign to be launched on June 15, setting up another possible Clinton-Bush race for the White House.
Jeb Bush has entered the 2016 US presidential race, hoping his image as a conservative rather than his family pedigree stands out in a Republican field that will probably include 10 other candidates.
Bush formally launched his bid at Miami’s Dade College on Monday, a diverse university in Florida chosen to transmit the message that he aims to run an inclusive campaign.
The son and brother of two former presidents, Bush, 62, highlighted his own successes as a two-term governor of Florida, where he claimed high job growth and other economic and social gains.
“We made Florida number one in job creation and number one in small business creation,” Bush said, boasting that he slashed taxes by $19bn. “I know we can fix this. Because I’ve done it.”
Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher, reporting from Bush’s campaign launch, said Bush appeared to distance himself from the family legacy in launching the “Jeb 2016” campaign.
“He has the name recognition but that can also hinder him on this campaign,” our correspondent said.
“Many of the other candidates running for the nomination are younger, fresher and more conservative than Jeb Bush is. When he was governor here, he was considered conservative.
“But in the 13 years since he ran for office the party has moved to the right, making him more of a moderate these days but he says he can reach out to voters the Republicans don’t normally get.”
Strongly pro-business and anti-abortion, Bush has resisted party orthodoxy, making far-right voters wary of his support for immigration reform, federal education standards and a willingness to hike taxes as part of a deficit-cutting deal.
Fluent in Spanish, he insists legalising millions of undocumented workers is the immigration debate’s “grown-up plan” and will fuel economic growth, unlike the mass deportations advocated by some hardliners.
Nationally, Bush is placed at the top of most Republican polls, but he is not the dominant figure many had expected.
Hillary Clinton is the front-runner on the Democratic side, with no current close competition.
While many Americans were lamenting the prospect of another Bush-Clinton presidential race and criticised the country’s dynastic politics, plenty of analysts were saying that they expected that neither candidate might still be in the race in the primaries in more than a year, our correspondent said.
ANALYSIS FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
|Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher|
In the coming months Jeb Bush is going to need supporters like Lucy Orlando. She proudly displays her nails painted with the former Florida governor’s name and turns to show me the back of her T-shirt emblazoned with the words “God loves Jeb”. Lucy is a 71-year-old Haitian immigrant who raised her family in the US and believes that the 43rd governor of the sunshine state is the man who will be president in 2016. “Right now America is losing power,” Lucy tells me over the din of the crowd at the Miami Dade College, “and we want that power back”.
Jeb Bush may make Lucy happy if he wins his party’s nomination but the 62-year-old has a long and potentially difficult road ahead. In recent weeks he has fumbled questions over Iraq, something his critics say he should have been prepared for, and some of his top aides have already been replaced. He was supposed to have been the candidate whose mere presence, and family name, discouraged others from running but he now faces stiff competition from younger and more conservative candidates.
These days Jeb Bush is viewed as a moderate, his party has moved to the right since he left office, and his stance on things like immigration reform may turn some voters off. Nevertheless the former governor says he will run an upbeat campaign and concentrate on the positive. If that proves to be the case it might be the most refreshing thing in US politics for years.