ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Could there be a third President Bush? The current chief said Wednesday that younger brother Jeb would make a great one, too, and has asked him about making a run. The first president Bush likes the idea as well.
Jeb Bush, the Republican governor of Florida, has one asset that his presidential brother doesn't right now - approval from most of his constituents. While George W. Bush's approval ratings are in the low 30s, some 55 per cent of Florida voters surveyed last month by Quinnipiac University said Jeb was doing a good job.
The governor has repeatedly said he won't be a candidate for president in 2008, but that doesn't stop his family from encouraging him to go for it some day.
"I would like to see Jeb run at some point in time, but I have no idea if that's his intention or not," the president said in an interview with Florida reporters, according to an account on the St. Petersburg Times Web site.
He said his brother would make "a great president" and that he had "pushed him fairly hard about what he intends to do."
"I truly don't think he knows," Bush said.
Jeb Bush, 53, will end his second term as governor in January. His brother George ends his second presidential term in January 2009. Neither can seek re-election because of term limits.
"I'm not running for president. I'm not running for United States Senate," the governor said Wednesday at a conference in Fort Lauderdale. "I'm trying to be a good governor."
As for his brother's comment that he would make a good president, he said, "I'm not going to disagree with the president, but I think I know what's in my heart, and I think I've expressed it pretty consistently over the past few months."
The governor got the buildup from his brother on the same day that he got some bad news out of Tallahassee. Florida House Speaker Allan Bense said Wednesday that despite personal appeals from the governor, he will not challenge Representative Katherine Harris for the party's nomination for U.S. Senate.
Jeb Bush has said he doesn't think Harris, the former secretary of state famous for her role in the 2000 Florida recount that clinched George Bush's presidential bid, can win the seat.
The Bush name could hurt as well as help in national politics right now. But because of that familiar name and family connections throughout the country, Jeb Bush has the luxury of being able to wait and decide if he wants to run while other candidates have to get to work early.
"Right off the bat, if he decided to run, he's got the advantage over many of the others who might be contenders," said Republican political consultant Rich Galen, who has known the family since George H.W. Bush was vice-president. "He doesn't have to establish his name. He's got it."
And, Galen points out, Jeb Bush has dealt with a lot of high-profile issues including hurricanes, immigration and sprawling development in one of the most important political states.
His own father says no one believes him when he says he's not interested in running at some point. Former president Bush told CNN's Larry King Live last year that he would like Jeb to run one day and that the son would be "awfully good" as president.
The Florida governor laughed when asked about his father's comments last June and said, "Oh, Lord." He simply shook his head no when asked if he was running.
The brothers Bush appeared together Tuesday during the president's visit to the Tampa area. Governor Bush was waiting on the tarmac when Air Force One arrived and greeted the president with a politician's handshake and "Welcome to Florida." The president brushed aside the formality and playfully adjusted his younger brother's necktie.
Jeb Bush introduced his brother at a retirement community in Sun City Center. They had a private lunch together with political supporters, then visited a fire station and appeared together before television cameras to express concern about wildfires that were blazing across the state. The governor was not with the president during his visit to The Puerto Rican Club of Central Florida in Orlando Wednesday - George W. Bush's final stop on a three-day trip to the state. But the president was sure his brother still got some attention.
"Yesterday I checked in with my brother," President Bush said as he took the stage. "Make sure everything's going all right. I'm real proud of Jeb. He's a good, decent man