Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will announce his presidential plans on June 15 in Miami, joining a growing Republican field that’s yet to produce a clear frontrunner.
“Governor Bush is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received from so many Americans during the last several months and looks forward to announcing his decision,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said in a statement.His team teased the announcement on a new website, jebannouncement.com, and on his Twitter feed Thursday, where he asked supporters to join him “for a special day.” The event will take place at Miami Dade College, providing Bush an opportunity to showcase his record on education as governor of Florida and later as founder of the advocacy group Foundation for Excellence in Education, now headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Bush is a top-tier contender, but faces stiff competition from, among others, fellow Floridian Sen. Marco Rubio, who has crept up in the polls since his own announcement, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who is holding off on a final decision until his state legislature concludes its work later this summer. Neither Bush nor any other candidate has broken out of the pack in surveys of voters, which show a closely divided contest both nationally and in early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. One recent poll by Quinnipiac found a five-way tie for first place with Bush, Rubio, Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson each getting 10% support.
The former governor has toured early primary states and spoke at major conservative gatherings in recent months, promising a “joyful” campaign premised on expanding opportunity at home and aggressively confronting threats abroad. In speeches, he’s stressed the importance of overhauling the nation’s immigration system to bring in more skilled workers and of encouraging higher standards and more choice in education. Both areas are controversial with elements of the Republican party: Many conservatives are upset with his call to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants and his support for Common Core education standards, which they worry will undermine local control of schools.
Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush, also faces the unique challenge of defining himself for voters who already have deeply rooted opinions about his family’s past performance in the White House. These issues came to a head last month when Bush struggled to answer whether he would have followed his brother’s path to war in Iraq in hindsight. He eventually said he would not have gone into Iraq knowing what he knows today and recently distanced himself from his brother’s record on spending as well.
The news comes amid growing pressure on Bush to formally declare a campaign after complaints from campaign finance watchdogs that his long unofficial flirtation with a White House bid, along with other undeclared candidates, was a ruse to circumvent fundraising restrictions on official candidates. Many prospective 2016 hopefuls this year have skipped the traditional process of setting up an exploratory committee in favor of a super PAC, which they can use to raise unlimited amounts of money thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, but can no longer coordinate with once they enter a race. In Bush’s case, his Right to Rise PAC is expected to raise tens of millions of dollars in support of his eventual run.
The June 15 event will take place almost six months to the day after Bush first signaled he would “actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States” in a post on Facebook.