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Will He or Won’t He?

12:01 PM, Apr 8, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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In the two days since Jeb Bush’s interesting and provocative interview with Fox News reporter Shannon Bream, many commentators and analysts have parsed his words and offered thoughts on what they mean for a prospective 2016 presidential bid. There’s a good reason for this interest. Bush is a well-regarded former governor of a big state and a favorite of big GOP donors.

bush jeb

Many political reporters, who spend lots of their time talking to those GOP donors, assume that Bush would be the instant frontrunner were he to decide to run. That’s premature, but it’s clear that Bush’s decision will shape the contours of the Republican primary. It’s also clear that the casual musing he has done about a presidential run is much more serious this time. Bush has not only accepted requests to do RNC events this cycle, he’s volunteered to do others. But his comments over the weekend may give us the best window into just how seriously he is looking at a run.

Some of the analyses of his comments over the weekend have noted Bush’s embrace of his father’s foreign policy views. Others highlighted the two main considerations Bush said he is mulling over as he thinks about a return to politics: whether he can do so “joyfully,” and no doubt related, the effects of a run on his family. And virtually every discussion of Bush’s comments over the weekend has focused on his comments about illegal immigration, which Bush called an “act of love.”

Interesting, to be sure. But the most revealing words from Bush came when he was setting up the comments that would be big news, not in those comments themselves.

When Bream asked Bush about immigration, he mentioned the Senate bill and border security. Then, before he waxed rhapsodic about the motivations of illegal immigrants, Bush said this: “The way I look at this – and it’ll be on tape and so be it – the way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because they couldn’t come legally, they come to our country because their families – the dad who loved their children – was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table.”

It’ll be on tape and so be it?

That’s something you say if you’re picturing yourself as a future candidate and you’re worried about the ads that’ll be run against you. 

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