Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is moving forward with his presidential campaign, including appearing at a fundraiser event on February 11 at the Park Avenue home of Henry R. Kravis, financier and co-founder of KKR & Co. The event was held to benefit Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC, to which Kravis is a donor.
Bush’s campaign has been ramping up ever since the announcement of his decision to seriously consider running late last year. In large part, Bush is leveraging 40 years of family connections to build support: he is the son of former President George Bush and the brother of former President George W. Bush, to begin with, and he also has a variety of contacts with big names such as Kravis, former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, and senior Bush administration member Mark Wallace.
That sort of influence appears to be setting up a potentially powerful campaign. In one week in January, Jeb Bush raised $100,000 in a matter of hours, expressed a desire to follow the letter of the law on same-sex marriage, and began meeting with potential donors and supporters for his 2016 bid.
As of New Year’s Eve, Bush has stepped down from all private sector and non-profit board memberships in an effort to create a clean slate of sorts for his potential campaign. In other preparatory steps, he and his wife Columba donated $10,000 to a fund for families of the two New York City police officers murdered in December, and his aids have announced that he will be willing to make public his personal income tax returns—a very different situation than that of the last GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who was criticized for hesitating on this issue. These steps, in addition to Bush’s history of comparatively moderate legislation that is still in line with Republican ideals, have led to growing excitement about the upcoming presidential race.
Bush’s connections and family history, not to mention his desire to remake himself as a strong candidate who is unafraid to take things to Washington, are likely to make for a very interesting and competitive 2016 presidential run.