Steve Huntley: Jeb Bush represents tradition and quiet competence

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// ]]>Jeb Bush is rich. He’s being described as one of the wealthiest presidential candidates following his release of tax records showing he earned $29 million in the seven years after he stepped down as governor of Florida. To put that in perspective, Hillary and Bill Clinton pocketed $25 million in a mere 16 months for doing no more than making speeches.

Democrats mercilessly pummeled 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as too rich. He was, they said, out of touch with the middle class, or as its voters are described nowadays, everyday Americans.


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// ]]>That playbook is gone for Democrats. Hillary Clinton hasn’t driven a car, an everyday experience for millions of everyday Americans, in nearly two decades.

No one can match the Clintons’ for their rapacious grasping at any dollar that pops up on their radar, often funneling cash to what increasingly looks like their personal political slush fund, the Clinton Foundation.

The Washington Post reported the University of Missouri at Kansas City asked the former secretary of state to speak at the opening of a women’s hall of fame only to find out she would charge $275,000. The university settled for daughter Chelsea for the bargain — in the Clinton world — fee of $65,000.

Bush’s disclosure of 33 years of tax returns reflects a commitment to transparency. Previously, he released the emails from his time as governor.

Bush paid a tax rate of 36 percent compared to the roughly 30 percent rate for the Clintons.

While Bush released all his gubernatorial emails, it appears Clinton was, uh, shall we say, dissembling when she claimed she gave all her official emails to the State Department. State officials say the agency can’t find all or parts of 15 emails turned over to Congress by a Clinton confidant in a probe of the 2012 Benghazi terror attack.

In previous columns, I’ve expressed skepticism about the Bush candidacy. He, like Clinton, reflects the 20th century more than the 21st. A third Bush presidency is a hard sell. Americans don’t like dynastic politics.

Yet, he’s proved to be impressive on the campaign trail. While he hasn’t achieved the “shock and awe” breakout his supporters hoped, he remains at the top of the crowded, strong field of GOP presidential contenders. Polls also show his acceptability is rising among Republicans, some who had worried he’s not conservative enough despite his Florida record. And a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll revealed voters just don’t seem to care about the dynasty issue.

At this early point in the 2016 contest, Bush has to rank among the candidates best positioned to win the GOP nomination. I’d say the others are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Bush represents tradition and quiet competence. That’s not to be discounted as a general election plus since Clinton’s record as secretary of state seems thinner by the day.

Rubio more than any candidate stands for generational change. He’s young but already has more experience than Barack Obama when he ran for the White House. Rubio is charismatic but also steeped in policy and has demonstrated an ability to work with Democrats in the Senate. The latter is not to be discounted in an era when voters express disgust with Washington.

Walker is the candidate of fundamental change in the way government operates. That is demonstrated by his success in taking on public employee unions in Wisconsin. These unions are at their core anti-taxpayer organizations, demanding ever more in pay and benefits, and higher taxes to pay for them. For years venal politicians were only too happy to make promises that states and municipalities couldn’t afford. As Illinois’ troubles illustrate, the bill is coming due. The cause of good government in the 21st century will be taming the power of these unions, and Walker has shown he’s not afraid of that challenge.

Other GOP contenders may rise or fall, but for the moment Republicans, in these three politicians, have candidates with the right stuff.


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