"Let Jeb be Jeb," one of the former Florida governor's top advisers told the New York Times back in December, describing a mantra of Jeb Bush's 2016 campaign.
That's a campaign promise that Jeb Bush appears to be keeping so far. In a radio interview with conservative host Sean Hannity on Tuesday, Bush backtracked slightly from his suggestion earlier this week that he would have opted to authorize the invasion of Iraq if he were president. Bush clarified his remarks after strong criticism from Democrats and even fellow Republicans.
But the original remark and his strong defense of his brother's decisions, even on Iraq, fit in with the ethos of Bush's campaign: Jeb Bush is simply determined to run for president his way and not bow to political customs unless he absolutely must. It's a combination of principle and stubbornness that could be his undoing or a key to his success.
Bush is being loyal to his brother and father, even if it means defending the unpopular Iraq War and regularly praising on the campaign trail the tenure of George H.W. Bush, whom many conservative Republicans dislike. In a Fox News interview that aired on Monday night, Bush said, "of course I'm going to ask my brother his advice," praising George W. Bush'sforeign policy knowledge.
He will not commit to opposing any tax increases as president, even though all of the other major GOP candidates are making that pledge.
He's consistently voiced his support for Common Core education standards, frequent standardized testing for schoolchildren, an increase in legal immigration and the creation of a pathway to legalization for undocumented immigrants, even though all four views are opposed by many conservatives.
Bush also often deviates from the calendar of important events most of his GOP rivals follow. He's skipped forums in Iowa and South Carolina sponsored by Citizens United, the influential conservative group. Bush meets personally with influential evangelical leaders, but declines the multi-candidate forums they host.