With former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty making a beeline to Florida for a Tampa fund-raiser on the heels of making his presidential candidacy official Monday, Florida’s own former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, was — again — quick to rule out his own potential run.
“While, I am flattered by everyone’s encouragement, my decision has not changed. I will not be a candidate for president in 2012,” Bush said in a statement.
With the GOP White House field seen as unsatisfying to many party faithful, Florida Republicans are among those who see Bush as having the supernova quality needed to reroute President Obama’s trajectory toward re-election next year.
Having the Republican National Convention in Tampa only adds to the wish-upon-a-star dreams of some within the party. A poll of Florida voters last month by state Republican operatives, Public Concepts, LLC, and Data Targeting, Inc., even gave Bush a 19 percentage point lead over Obama in the nation’s biggest toss-up state.
Bush, who’s gained increased attention as many of the education initiatives he debuted in Florida gain traction in other states — and even with the Obama administration –is clearly wary. And, perhaps, with good reason.
A Gallup poll in April showed Bush’s unfavorable rating among nationwide voters is 44 percent, compared with 35 percent who have a positive view of the former chief executive. Fox News in February also found Bush trailed Obama by 20 percentage points, on a list of potential GOP contenders.
Far closer for Fox, then, was a candidate who actually is running — former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who only trailed Obama by 7 percentage points at the time.