For the past year, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been wooing his longtime friend Jeb Bush to jump into the 2016 presidential race, even as he has shunned potential Tea Party rivals like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Boehner stepped up his lobbying efforts this week, singing the former Florida governor’s praises in a pair of media interviews.
The Speaker’s preference for yet another Bush White House run is partly political, partly personal. He sees Bush as undeniably the strongest, most viable candidate who could pull the party together after a bruising primary and take on a formidable Hillary Clinton, sources said. And the two men are aligned politically, hailing from the same centrist strand of the GOP. …
Boehner didn’t endorse any GOP primary candidate in 2008 or 2012 and hasn’t officially endorsed anyone in 2016, saying the GOP has “a lot of good candidates.”
But he has talked up Jeb Bush more than any other prospective candidate this year, openly “nudging” the two-term former governor to launch a bid.
“He’s had plenty of opportunities to tell me to stop, and he hasn’t,” Boehner told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired this week.
Then on Tuesday, he told a Gannett reporter that “competence” will be a defining issue of the 2016 campaign and that Bush “could be a very competent candidate and could make that appeal.”
The Speaker also said Bush “has a record of serious, big reforms” dating to his time as Florida’s governor.