After months raising money and lining up support on the sidelines, Jeb Bush is preparing Monday to enter the Republican presidential race — aiming to regain the momentum after watching several other GOP luminaries seize the spotlight.
No longer the unquestioned front-runner, the former Florida governor has to contend with 10 other candidates who already have declared and several more expected to enter in the coming weeks. Lately, he’s been bunched at the top of national Republican polls with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has not yet declared, and home-state rival Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has.
Bush reportedly is planning to get more aggressive against his closest competitors, including Walker and Rubio.
On Monday morning, he released a web video touting his record as Florida governor and pitching himself as a problem-solver.
“We led, we reformed, we got results. That’s what’s missing in Washington,” he says. “I’m ready to lead.”
The video cuts to his logo, unveiled Sunday on Twitter: “Jeb! 2016.” The logo notably does not use his last name — a factor that has been both an asset and a liability in a race where “establishment” candidates are easy targets.
Bush will formally enter the race Monday afternoon with a speech and rally near his south Florida home at Miami Dade University, an institution selected because it serves a large and diverse student body that’s symbolic of the nation he seeks to lead.
“My core beliefs start with the premise that the most vulnerable in our society should be in the front of the line and not the back,” Bush says in a video featuring women, minorities and a disabled child to be aired at the event before his announcement speech. “What we need is new leadership that takes conservative principles and applies them so that people can rise up.”
Bush joins the crowded Republican campaign in some ways in a commanding position. The brother of one president and son of another, Bush has likely raised a record-breaking amount of money to support his candidacy and conceived of a new approach on how to structure his campaign, both aimed at allowing him to make a deep run into the GOP primaries.
But on other measures, early public opinion polls among them, he has yet to break out. While unquestionably one of the top-tier candidates in the GOP race, he is also only one of several in a capable Republican field that does not have a true front-runner.
In the past six months, Bush has made clear he will remain committed to his core beliefs in the campaign to come — even if his positions on immigration and education standards are deeply unpopular among the conservative base of the party that plays an outsized role in the GOP primaries.
“I’m not going to change who I am,” Bush said as he wrapped up a week-long European trip this weekend. “I respect people who may not agree with me, but I’m not going to change my views because today someone has a view that’s different.”
Bush is one of 11 major Republicans in the hunt for the nomination. But few among them entered the race with such a high expectations of success as did Bush. Those expectations have seemed a burden at times.
Take, for example, the question of whether Bush will report raising $100 million for his campaign in the first six months of the year. Lost amid the “will he or won’t he” is that Bush probably will have raised more in six months than former presidential nominee Mitt Romney raised in the first year before the 2012 election.
After touring four early-voting states, Bush quickly launches a private fundraising tour with stops in at least 11 cities before the end of the month. Two events alone — a reception at Union Station in Washington on Friday and a breakfast the following week on Seventh Avenue in New York — will account for almost $2 million in new campaign cash, according to invitations that list more than 75 donors committed to raising big money.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.