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Barney Bishop: Jeb Bush is best presidential candidate for GOP in 2016


Published:   |   Updated: January 9, 2014 at 01:38 PM

As the political winds are turning to presidential politics in 2016, now is the time for Republicans to start thinking about their ticket.  I know it's early, but the top of the Democratic ticket has already been pretty much decided by the mainstream media.  It's Hillary and whoever she wants as her veep.
 
For the Republicans, they will need someone at the top of the ticket who is principled.  He'll keep his campaign promises.  He must have an economic issue that will resonate with women because men already support the GOP.  Women — especially independent women — are the holy grail of a winning national campaign.
 
In my opinion, it can't be someone from the far right, the Tea Party.  Not because they are wrong on the issues, but they have been labeled by the mainstream media as kooks and racists. The Tea Party has been unable to debunk that perception.
 
So count out U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.  The only thing I know for sure about him is that he is opposed to Obamacare.  What I don't know is what he stands for.
 
You can count out U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky as well. His views for the most part are not center-right enough to win a general election. He's on the fringe and he will only do marginally better than his father Ron Paul.
 
There are other Republicans, like Paul Ryan and Rick Santorum, who have solid credentials but who have never really governed.
 
I know that compromise has become a dirty word to many, but in reality our forefathers established, on purpose, a system that was designed to require compromise. After 238 years, it still protects the rights of the minority without entirely stifling the will of the majority.
 
Governors are where it's really at. They must implement what they proffered to the people.  They must balance their budgets since none of them can print money. Governors also must compromise, sometimes even when their party controls both the executive and legislative branches of government.
 
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is an intriguing man because he overhauled the outdated pension system for state employees, got recalled by the unions, and then simply went back and won the election by an even bigger margin than he did the first time!
 
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is an especially engaging leader.  He tells it like it is and to hell with the consequences.  He fought the teachers' union and won.  He criticized the Republican-led Congress for failing to provide timely hurricane relief and he worked with President Obama to get federal funds for his state's citizens. Finally, he won re-election in a decidedly blue state!
 
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was as successful as any governor could be.  He won re-election twice.  He stands out among the current crop of governors because of his focus on education. His efforts produced impressive results in Florida.
 
But what America needs is a president who will enable our students to compete with students from Seoul, Beijing, Hong Kong and Singapore.
 
This won't be easy. The desire of entrenched interests to maintain the educational status quo is stronger than the desire for change. But Jeb Bush is up to the challenge.
 
This will appeal to women, who want a stronger education system. And a solid, well-grounded education in reading, writing and comprehension, not wimpy educational standards and social promotion, is the best prescription for a decent job.
 
So if the Republicans intend to win the presidency in 2016, they need to support someone who is principled, has governed effectively, appeals to women voters, and is prepared to lead.
 
That means Jeb Bush as the presidential nominee and either Scott Walker or Chris Christie as the vice-presidential candidate.
 
Many will say there is Bush fatigue. Many will say that Christie is not conservative enough. But Christie can attract Northeastern Republicans and Democrats — voters the GOP will need in 2016.
 
I know it's early.  But no one can blame me for wishful thinking.  Florida is the only major state that has never had a bona fide presidential or vice presidential candidate on a major party slate.
 
Our time has come and Jeb Bush is by far the best candidate.
 
- Barney Bishop is a conservative Democrat who was executive director of the Florida Democratic Party in the early nineties. He's a serial entrepreneur who was also the president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida for seven years. An avid student of politics, he has lived and worked as a lobbyist and political consultant in Tallahassee for the last 30 years. Barney can be reached at barney@barneybishop.com.
 
- ContextFlorida is an online opinion network dedicated to driving the discussion about the issues, personalities and politics shaping Florida. For more information, contact peter@contextflorida.com.

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