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2016 campaign checklist: Bush

Monday - 4/7/2014, 3:21am  ET

THOMAS BEAUMONT
Associated Press

A look at preparations by former Gov. Jeb Bush, R-Fla., for a potential 2016 presidential campaign:

Nondenial denial: "I can honestly tell you that I don't know what I'm going to do." -- Standard disclaimer. "There's a time to make a decision. You shouldn't make it too early, you shouldn't make it too late. There's a time. There's a window. And this is not the time for me. This is the time to show a little self-restraint." -- November 2013, CNN.

Book: Yes. Co-authored "Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution," which he promoted on all five Sunday morning TV talk shows on March 10, 2013.

Iowa visits: Yes, in 2012, economic development meeting in Sioux City, but he's not making splashy visits to early-voting states yet, in keeping with his views about showing restraint.

New Hampshire: No record of recent visits.

South Carolina: Yes, in April 2012. Spoke to Empower S.C. Education Reform meeting.

Foreign travel: Yes, a few times a year. Several visits to Israel, as governor (1999) and since then (private visit 2007). Also went there as Florida commerce secretary in 1980s.

Meet the money: Yes, he's got longtime connections on Wall Street and beyond -- as a Bush, a former governor and now a senior adviser at the financial firm Barclays. Flew to Las Vegas in March to meet GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson and address senior members of Republican Jewish Coalition at Adelson's company airport hangar. In February, his short video for a GOP fundraiser at Donald Trump's Palm Beach, Fla., estate was a bigger hit than Sen. Ted Cruz's keynote speech. Party in summer of 2013 for his immigration book at home of Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and a leading Republican bundler.

Networking: Picking up the pace this year. Recent travels to Tennessee, New Mexico, Nevada and Texas. Skipped Conservative Political Action Conference in March, after giving keynote speech to the influential group a year earlier. 2013 Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting. Speeches and meetings on education policy. Told Kemp Foundation in October he considers the U.S. a "center-right country" and conservatives must "get outside our comfort zone" to govern effectively.

Hog the TV: No. Blanketed the Sunday talk shows in March 2013 to plug his book on immigration, but not many appearances since.

Do something: Staked a position on immigration to the right of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and some others. Strong job approval ratings as governor of Florida, a swing state. Revamped state educational system, cut taxes, managed state through several hurricanes.

Take a stand: Most prominently, an advocate for an education overhaul, including publicly financed private school vouchers and stricter accountability standards for teachers and students. A champion of "Common Core" academic standards developed by a bipartisan group of governors and state school officials and later promoted by Obama administration. Many conservatives -- and some potential GOP rivals -- see them as a federal takeover of local classrooms. Also supports immigration overhaul.

Baggage: The Bush factor. Jeb is yet another Bush, which is a plus for many people but a huge negative for a big slice of the electorate that either didn't like Bush 41 and/or 43, or simply objects to the whole idea of a political dynasty. Even Barbara Bush, when asked about son Jeb running, said last April, "We've had enough Bushes." Not much he can do to deflect this, other than show he's his own man, and keep 41 and 43 at a distance. "It's an issue for sure," he acknowledges. Also, his Common Cause advocacy and position on immigration put him at odds with some on the right.

Shadow campaign: He's a Bush -- he's got tons of connections. Sally Bradshaw, his chief of staff when he was governor, is his go-to political person.

Social media: Tweets and posts many Wall Street Journal stories, education thoughts and some Bush family doings. Tweeted in November 2013: "Why would our President close our Embassy to the Vatican? Hopefully, it is not retribution for Catholic organizations opposing Obamacare." Fact-checkers pointed out the U.S. Embassy in Rome was relocating, not closing.


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