It wasn’t exactly subtle, and that was the point.
After more than a year of playing Hamlet, Jeb Bush had left most media and political players wondering if he was just too ambivalent to mount a presidential campaign. And he needed to send a clear, unambiguous signal that he wants to be a contender in 2016.
Voila: the magic leak. Well-placed sources orchestrated a doubleheader, the message delivered simultaneously on the front pages of two major newspapers.
The former Florida governor followed up by announcing he’ll release all 250,000 e-mails he sent during his tenure and telling a Miami station that he plans to write an e-book. My translation: he’s in.
There are obstacles, to be sure, and Jeb could still change his mind. But a veteran politician doesn’t pull the media strings the way he did if he’s not 95 percent of the way there. It seems to me very likely that a third Bush is running for the White House.
One source close to Bush thinks I’m overreacting, and that this was more in the nature of dropping a hint to keep potential backers from jumping ship. “He’s not yet made a final decision, but he’s going through his process and starting to get more active in looking at this,” the person said of Bush.
Another veteran Republican strategist tamped things down as well: “I’ve never been more confused by messages from a campaign. One person close to Bush told me, ‘Oh my gosh, no way he’s running.’ Other people say, ‘No, it’s been really well orchestrated, exactly how he wants to do it.’ Then there’s a third group that swears he’s doing it for business reasons, to get his name out there. I’m as befuddled as everyone else.”