What Is Jeb Bush’s ‘Right to Rise’ Idea?

Andy Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Andy Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Jeb Bush may not be the most popular Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election, but he does have a few key advantages. First, he might actually be running, unlike Republicans’ first choice — according to polls — Mitt Romney, who’s said he will not be throwing himself in the ring next year. And the polls — from RealClearPolitics — suggest that if he chooses to run, he’d be at the head of other Republican candidates, though only by a thin sliver in some cases. An RCP average of other polls puts him at 17% preference, just over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s 11.2%.

Second, he could gain from vote splitting caused by other Republicans. Moderate Republican candidates, including Bush, would benefit from Mike Huckabee running for office as his pull on conservative, religious, and southern voters would help to divide votes. Bush has made comments on immigration that could make him more sympathetic to a Latino votership, but might alienate him among far right conservatives, including Tea Party members. If a candidate unlikely to win, like Huckabee, draws these votes rather than leaving them open to a more viable candidate, it would help propel Bush forward.

Finally, he knows a good idea when he hears it — and he’s not afraid to borrow it (even from potential opponents). A new leadership PAC has come on the scene for Bush, announced in early December in a Facebook post. The PAC “will help [Bush] facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation,” read the post, adding that it would “be to support leaders, ideas, and policies that would expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.”

Bush’s PAC has since been put in motion, and it’s called “The Right to Rise PAC.” For those who don’t know, “The Right to Rise” is a phrase first used by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), as Bush addressed in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal mid-December. “Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: ‘The right to rise,'” wrote Bush. He went on to outline what looks to be his main talking point for a potential presidential run; a new economic approach for the Republican party based on “economic freedom” and America’s growing need to “make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise.”

In the Wall Street Journal piece, he described a desire to see less economic regulation and government interference, asking, “have we lost faith in the free-market system of entrepreneurial capitalism?” and, “Are we no longer willing to place our trust int he creative chaos unleashed by millions of people pursuing their own best economic interests?”

The PAC’s self-professed belief, published on its website, describes what looks a lot like Republican re-branding with a right of center ideology and a slightly softer touch than more extreme right wingers. While the rhetoric is sympathetic to middle class Americans and the poor, it carefully carves out a conservative emphasis on this sympathy. “We believe the income gap is real, but that only conservative principle can solve it by removing the barriers to upward mobility,” it reads. Paul Ryan, for his part, used the phrase at the end of commentary on “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense,” according to the Heritage Foundation, saying, “Here in America — unlike most places on Earth — all citizens have the right to rise.” Bush might see himself face-to-face on the debate stage next year with Ryan, which makes the overlap particularly interesting — though the two are likely to have some very different ideas. Ryan has yet to make a decision on whether to run. “I don’t even know if I’m going to [run] either myself. That’s something I’m going to decide in 2015,” he said according to The Huffington Post. He did make one thing clear: If Mitt Romney runs, he won’t. “I wouldn’t if he were. I would support Mitt. If he were to run, I would not.” That said, he also appears to believe the former presidential candidate when Romney said he wouldn’t be making a bid for the executive office.

RCP reports that Bush is a full 7 percentage points ahead of Ryan’s polling data at 17% over 10% respectively. A significant lead, but that could change. Christie has thus far presented a greater challenge, at least in the polls, to Bush’s chances, but only by a slight margin of 11.2% to 10.0%, according to the RCP average.

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