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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Some familiar faces are leading the field of likely Republican nominees for president in 2016.
In a recent McClatchy-Marist poll, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney topped the pack with support from approximately 19 percent of Republican voters. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush came in second with 14-percent.
That’s if Romney runs. If he doesn’t, Bush’s support inched up to 16-percent. Close behind were Arkanas Governor Mike Huckabee (12-percent) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (10-percent).
Bush has been coy about whether he would run in 2016, but recently that changed. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Bush said after some “good food” and a “whole lot of football,” he and his family made a decision as to whether he should run for the Oval Office or not.
“We also talked about the future of our nation. As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States,” Bush wrote in a statement.
“In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation. The PAC’s purpose will be to support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.”
Bush backers were delighted to hear the news.
“You may not agree with his politics, but he is just a man who treats people fairly and he was the kind of guy who said the buck stops here,” said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Democrats said Bush has a history that won’t play well among the challenged middle class.
“He’s never going to be able to run from the fact that he fully embraces the same old, tired economic agenda that Republicans have embraced,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
By nearly two to one, Republicans and Republican leaning independents, 64% said it is more important to have a nominee who will stand on conservative principles than it is to have a nominee for president who can win.
Hillary Clinton was the overwhelming favorite in the Democratic primary.
Sixty-two percent of Democrats and Democratic leaning independents support the former Secretary of State. Vice President Joe Biden was a distant second with 11-percent while Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had 9-percent.
Nearly six in ten Democrats and Democratic leaning independents (58-percent), think it’s more important to have a nominee who will move the nation in a new direction while 38-percent want someone who will continue President Barack Obama’s policies.
So does Jeb Bush fare against Hillary Clinton with registered voters? According to the poll, Clinton would receive 53-percent support: 13 points over Bush’s 40-percent. Seven percent are undecided.
G.O.P Consultant Rick Wilson says Bush’s vast network of people loyal to the Bush name, intellect, cross-over appeal and political experience are major strengths for the two term governor.
Wilson says the fact Bush hasn’t run a campaign in over a decade and his stance on the Common Core are his weaknesses. The Common Core is a set of academic standards put together by a bi-partisan group of governors. It has been promoted by President Obama and is something conservative Republicans have a fundamental problem with.
“The Common Core issue is one he has to face and face now,” said Wilson. “The issue is not: I know what I’m talking about, you don’t. it has to be more respectful.”
Additionally Wilson says the primary will get very interesting if both Romney and Bush are running in the Republican primary because “the people Jeb Bush has locked in today were folks Romney locked up in 2012.”
“They are gonna tap into the same financial base.”
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