President Obama and Jeb Bush will share the stage of a Miami high school to tout education reform tomorrow. If I were advising Obama, I’d urge him to achieve a single objective: hug Bush. Two years ago, the Obama Embrace served as a Crist of Death — i.e., it imperiled the political future of Charlie Crist, Bush’s successor as governor of Florida. Obama certainly didn’t mean to hurt Crist. Who doubts that he wouldn’t rather deal with a Sen. Crist than a Sen. Rubio? Yet his hug worked like a reverse Midas Touch on the onetime Republican and created an opening for Rubio’s conservative insurgency.
According to Chris Good of the Atlantic, it wasn’t even much of a hug:
But let’s go to the tape, and realize something: Crist didn’t actually hug Obama, so much as Obama hugged him. Crist put himself in the position, but he was not the agent of this embrace. He basically just stood there.
So apparently it was like date rape.
I don’t think Jeb Bush is going to run for president in 2012. But I also think he’d be a stronger candidate than many Republicans assume. Don’t take it from me — take it from Democrats: In a recent National Journal “insider’s poll,” Democrats rank Bush as the GOP’s third most formidable potential presidential nominee (after Mitt Romney and Mitch Daniels). A hug shot with Obama would make it more difficult for him to win the GOP nomination. The image would not go away, either. It probably would hurt in 2016 too.