A third Bush fighting for the presidency in 2016 looks a serious possibility as Jeb emerges as Republican candidate

Those against the Tea Party right have increasingly come to view the 61-year-old as the only person capable of waging a credible campaign

Us Editor

Jeb Bush has admitted in the clearest terms yet that he is thinking seriously about running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 by telling an audience in Texas that he is trying not to.

The former two-times governor of Florida and brother and son of former presidents said his reluctance to get too deep into the question now means a decision is not imminent. But he won’t leave the party hanging forever. “I’ll make up my mind [by] the end of the year… I just don’t want to go through that until the right time,” he said, adding that he spends “every day trying to avoid having to think about it”.

Traditional Republicans – as against the Tea Party right – have increasingly come to view Mr Bush, 61, as the only person capable of waging a credible campaign in 2016, particularly if Hillary Clinton emerges as the Democrat nominee. His role as a potential saviour has come into focus in part because of the George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal that has enveloped New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

But in speaking on Sunday night to an audience gathered at the George W Bush Presidential Library in Dallas to mark the 25th anniversary of the presidency of George HW Bush, his father, the former governor also managed to demonstrate why his running for the White House might just as easily cleave the party in two as reunite it, with comments on education and immigration that would inflame Tea Party activists. The reasons for Mr Bush to decline are many, including his home life. “Is it OK for my family?” he asked. “Is it something that is a huge sacrifice for my family?”

Running would open his Mexican-born wife and their children to intense scrutiny. One daughter has had tangles with the law over drug use. His son George P Bush is beginning a political career of his own in Texas and might not want his father taking his oxygen. There is also the problem of his name. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll showed that 50 per cent of Americans would not be ready to vote for yet another Bush.

It is 12 years since he last ran for election, in Florida, and he signalled his distaste for the attack-ad negativity of national campaigns today. “Can a candidate run with a hopeful, optimistic message, hopefully with enough detail to give a sense that it’s not just idle words and not get back into the vortex of the mud fight?” he asked.

On immigration, he almost set up the mud fight even before declaring by saying that some of those who enter the US do so out “of an act of love”, coming often for family reasons. That implies both joining family members already in the US and remitting money they earn to families back home. Such sentiments are anathema to the party’s right.

Read more: Ex-President's portraits of world leaders go on show
There are signs the Tea Party may be over
Michele Bachmann claims to be heir of Margaret Thatcher

“Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony,” said Mr Bush, who is fluent in Spanish. “It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime, that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”

Though Mr Bush has solid conservative credentials, he would be pegged as the moderate in a primary battle for the nomination. His biggest problem would be that the voices of independent and moderate voters tend to be overwhelmed in early primary votes by the more conservative forces.

In Dallas, Mr Bush repeated his support for national school standards, the Common Core, which used to have wide party support until the Tea Party declared its opposition. “I just don’t seem compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country,” he said. “And others have, others that supported the standards all of a sudden now are opposed to it. I don’t get it. High standards matter.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life