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With Eyes Toward General Election, Jeb Bush Campaigning As Moderate

Jeb Bush officially launched his presidential campaign in Florida this week becoming the eleventh major candidate seeking the Republican nomination.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Matt Corrigan, professor of politics at the University of North Florida, gave his thoughts on Bush’s candidacy.

Corrigan wrote about Bush in his book, “Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida.”

Corrigan says Bush’s campaign is going to be a fascinating test in two ways.

“Number one, Jeb Bush is going to talk about policy differences on immigration on common core education. Is there space in the Republican primary process to do this?” Corrigan said.

Corrigan says the second way Bush’s strategy differs from other candidates is he’s campaigning to voters as he would in the general election.

Instead of campaigning far right to win the Republican nomination first like other candidates, Bush is starting out in a moderate position, Corrigan says.

“He’s really making an appeal to Republican primary voters to be strategic,” Corrigan said.

Corrigan says even though Bush is running a more moderate campaign, he has a strong conservative record from when he served as governor of Florida.

Corrigan also says one of Bush’s main challenges is his family name.

“The Bush’s have been dealing with this name issue for a long time,” Corrigan said. “Jeb Bush’s biggest hurdle right now is people saying we just don’t need another Bush in a span of two decades.”

This is an issue Hillary Clinton will also have to deal with says Corrigan.

“In some ways it’s amazing that he’s a real contender right now if you think back to George W. Bush’s last months as president,” Corrigan said. “So you think with that last name, no one from his family would run again.”

Corrigan says the media will be very focused on Bush versus Marco Rubio, but several other Republican candidates have the opportunity to take the nomination as well.

Listen to the full conversation with Matthew Corrigan on Tuesday’s episode of the “First Coast Connect” podcast on iTunes.

Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.