By Carol Cain
Is the country ready for another Bush in the White House?
“I think Jeb Bush would be a fantastic president,” said Karen Hughes, former White House Press Secretary to former President George W. Bush, and now global vice chair of Burson-Marstellar, during taping of “Michigan Matters” about the prospect.
As the former Florida Governor hits the national interview circuit to tout his new book on immigration reform, a growing chorus of pundits is suggesting he is sounding like a presidential candidate for 2016. Hughes appeared on “Michigan Matters” with Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary and senior adviser to Barack Obama.
Also on the show – new Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson and Michigan Republican Chair Bobby Schostak in their first face-to-face meeting since winning election of their party’s top jobs. “He’s a strong leader, and a champion of both education and immigration reform, both vital issues for our country and the future of the Republican party,” Hughes said of Jeb Bush.
She mentioned the six degrees of separation of the Bush family in American politics. “President Bush ’43 (George W. Bush) used to joke that he had inherited half of his father’s friends and all of his enemies, so I expect the same might be true for Jeb Bush,” she said.
“His name would be well known, he would be immediately liked by many because of affection for his family and their values/what they stand for and probably disliked by some who disliked his brother or father — but ultimately, I believe people would vote based on the person and the philosophy, not the name.”
Jeb Bush wrote “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution” which hit bookstores this week. Bush appeared on CBS and said he is “not ruling it out” when asked about a possible presidential bid in 2016.
Meanwhile, Hughes and Gibbs talked about the two men they served and their legacies as president. Hughes said George W. Bush brought the country together after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. “He put together an infrastructure that Obama carried forward,” Hughes said. She added that Bush also helped save millions of lives with AIDS work in Africa. Gibbs said rebuilding the country’s economy is Obama’s legacy as he begins his second term. Hughes and Gibbs were in town to speak at the Michigan Political Leadership’s fundraiser held at Laurel Manor, Thursday, February 28. Over 800 movers and shakers attended the annual event which raises money for the non-partisan program at Michigan State University.
Hughes, who lives in Texas, said she talks to her former boss on a regular basis. Still, she was surprised to learn he had taken up painting as a hobby and was particularly good at painting animals. “Who knew he could paint?” she said with a laugh.
Hughes, who has a 13-year-old golden retriever named Breeze, considered asking him to paint her dog. She decided against it after he told her he had grown weary of painting. But “a mutual friend told the President that I wanted him to paint her. So, he told me to send him 10 pictures of Breeze –especially ones that showed her eyes!”
Eyeing The Competition
Schostak said his goal as leader of Michigan’s GOP is to “protect our largest majority in 50 years. We want to keep the House and Senate, the Supreme Court.” “Freedom to Work is great for Michigan,” Schostak said, adding it had been part of the conversation for the past 10 years.
Schostak worked with Grand Rapids businessman Dick DeVos and Ann Arbor businessman Ron Weiser, former Michigan GOP party chair, as they orchestrated adoption of Right to Work (or Freedom to Work) with Michigan’s Republican controlled lameduck legislature in December.
Johnson responded since the GOP has been in charge, Michiganders have lost their voting rights with things like Right to Work and an Emergency Manager appointment in Detroit looming.
Johnson said his priority is to find good candidates including someone to take on Gov. Rick Snyder who is up for re-election in 2014. Johnson didn’t have any names to throw out just yet.
Watch Michigan Matters 11:30 am Sunday on CBS 62.
Carol Cain is the Emmy winning Senior Producer and Host of “Michigan Matters” airing 11:30 am Sundays on CBS 62. She writes about politics and business in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.