After campaign kickoff, tough road ahead for Jeb Bush in 2016 presidential race

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-6-18 10:07:50

Despite being a Republican Party (GOP) front-runner for the 2016 US presidential race, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush leads the pack by only a nose, and will have a tough fight ahead in his bid to grab the party nomination, US experts said.Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and second son of former President George H. W. Bush, officially announced his candidacy on Monday in a speech in Miami, vowing to "take Washington -- the static capital of this dynamic country -- out of the business of causing problems."

But while Bush is expected to be well-funded, using his brother's connections and being the favorite of many establishment Republicans, there is still no clear winner in the race to clinch the GOP nomination and go on to face likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. And unlike the last presidential race, this time the GOP filed its chock-full of talented candidates clamoring for the nomination.

"He's struggling to gain traction. He's a front-runner, but he' s a tepid front-runner as of right now," Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

Bush shares the top of the list with two other front-runners - Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who has not announced his decision yet. Bush leads in the Real Clear Politics national polling average by a mere 0.2 percent, just a hair ahead of rivals Walker and Rubio, leaving more than enough room for the other candidates to catch up.

Rubio, a fresh face in his early 40s, has grabbed the spotlight in recent weeks by firing back at a few media attacks over his personal finances, and some experts and media said his feisty performance could well galvanize conservatives behind him.

"(Bush) has two problems. The first, which is also an asset, is his last name. He has to find a way to become Jeb, the former governor of Florida, and not the third Bush," O'Connell said, referring to Bush's father and brother, who are both former presidents.

"The other problem is that he's running against an extremely talented field," he said. "If he's to win the nomination, it's going to be a long, drawn-out affair."

Some also believe that sharing the same last name as brother George W. Bush, who waged an unpopular war in Iraq and had an approval rating as low as 25 percent in October 2008, could drag Jeb down in the polls later on in the race to the White House.

While Bush is expected to have a well-funded campaign, that alone will not make or break him.

Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua that while money helps, it does not guarantee results.

"Having a big war chest allows you to hire the best advisers and run a lot of ads. It does not mean that the conservative base will warm up to him," West said.

"Republican voters are significantly to the right of Bush on many different issues. It will be a challenge for him to re- introduce himself to Republicans and explain why he really has a conservative governing record in Florida," he said.

West said Bush's main advantage is his national fundraising network and grasp of the policy issues." He is someone who understands the nuances of public policy and is knowledgeable about many different topics," he said.

Still, Bush is no great speaker like President Barack Obama or former presidents like Ronald Reagan, and experts say he needs to ramp up his public speaking game.

"Sometimes it is hard for him to communicate his views effectively. He needs to work on his presentational skills and the way he connects with ordinary voters," West said.

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