Ahead of a fundraiser he's attending Thursday evening in Houston, former President George H.W. Bush has penned a letter to potential donors asking them to give "even $25" to a super-PAC supporting his son, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. In the two-page letter obtained by Bloomberg Politics, the former president says his son, who is considering his own presidential campaign, "stands out for his refreshing and complete lack of interest in negative attacks."
Jeb Bush's mother is helping him raise money for his super PAC. Jeb Bush's brother is helping him raise money for his super PAC. And now Jeb Bush's father is getting in on the game.
Putting aside the fact that the former governor launches negative attacks against President Obama on a daily basis, it seems Jeb Bush is running out of famous relatives -- though I suppose there's nothing stopping Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Jeb's son, from joining the fun.
"I love the fact that we have a united family," Jeb Bush told Fox News Radio yesterday.
To be sure, there's nothing illegal or untoward about candidates relying on their immediate family members for campaign help -- though few have families this powerful -- and the Florida Republican has focused most of his energies of late on filling his campaign coffers.
But as we discussed the other day, there's another angle to all of this that's more politically problematic.
it was just last month when Jeb Bush delivered a big speech in Chicago in which he tried to put some distance between himself and his controversial last name. “I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make,” he said. “But I am my own man – and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.”
Left unsaid: “Now, if you don’t mind, my mom, dad, and brother would like you to start contributing to my super PAC.”
Threading this needle isn't easy: Jeb is eager to use his name and family to advance his ambitions, even as he encourages voters and the media to overlook the fact that he’s the brother of a president, the son of a president, and grandson of a senator.
As we've talked about, it’s a tough pitch, made more difficult by Jeb’s personal history. The New York Times reported last month, for example, that Jeb Bush spent much of his adult life taking advantage of his family connections to advance his interests. In Florida, people went out of their way to get close to Bush in the hopes that he’d relay messages and suggestions to his powerful relatives – which he routinely did.
What’s more, as the Florida Republican moves closer to his campaign kick-off, Jeb Bush has assembled a team of advisers to help bring him up to speed, especially in areas of foreign policy and national security The campaign released a list of advisers that included his father’s Secretary of State (James Baker), his brother’s Deputy Defense Secretary (Paul Wolfowitz), his brother’s National Security Adviser (Stephen Hadley), a variety of members from his brother’s cabinet (Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff). In fact, Philip Bump reported that of the 21 people reportedly advising Jeb Bush, 19 are veterans of the first Bush administration, the second Bush administration, or in a few cases, both.
The Washington Post added that Bush has “also consulted with former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, but his interactions with her are ‘more complicated because if she’s too involved I think there’s a sensitivity that it would be a carbon copy of his brother’s administration,’ the foreign policy expert said.”
If that is a legitimate concern – and it should be given the scope of his brother’s catastrophic failures in office – Jeb’s willingness to exploit family connections for fundraising is a tricky proposition, which his rivals will likely exploit.