When it comes to Jeb Bush, ‘no’ is not enough

Memo to the media: He really doesn't want to be vice president.

FLORIDA — Sitting across from Jeb Bush last week on the set of CBS This Morning, Charlie Rose asked: “You are basically saying what about this conversation about running as the running mate of Mitt Romney?”

Conversation? What conversation? There is no conversation other than the ones being held by Rose and other members of the media who simply refuse to accept the former Florida governor’s answer. For months, Bush has repeatedly said he is not interested in running for vice president. This comes after years of telling anyone who asked that he would not run for president in 2012.

Patiently and politely Bush answered Rose.

I’m not going to do it and I’m not going to be asked and it’s not going happen. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to enthusiastically support Mitt Romney. I intend to do that. I’m doing it. But I’m not going to be a candidate with him.”

“Under no circumstances?”

“Under no circumstances.”

“So if he comes and asks, you say, ‘Sorry, go somewhere else?’”


You would think this was breaking news. Stories began ricocheting across the internet as if no one had ever heard Bush say it before. Some headlines:

“Veep Beat: Jeb Bush Rules Out VP, but Not Future W.H. Run,” ABC News The Note

“Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush rules out VP bid,” Reuters

“Jeb Bush: ‘Under no circumstances’ would I take VP gig,” The Capitol Column

“Jeb Bush says ‘under no circumstances’ would he take VP job,” CNN Political Ticker

“Jeb Bush says no to being Romney’s vice president,” Los Angeles Times Politics Now

Where are the editors? Where is anyone in any newsroom asking, “Is this news?” It is not as if Bush has been leaving a trail of crumbs suggesting that he really, really wants to be veep. The only such crumb trail that exists in Florida leads to the door of US Sen. Marco Rubio, who, despite repeated denials of interest, has been steadily working on improving his image, raising his profile, even rushing to publish his autobiography. According to Politico, An American Son will be published June 19, slightly ahead of as will The Rise of Marco Rubio, a biography by Manuel Roig-Franzia, of The Washington Post, scheduled to come out in July. Rubio certainly gives the appearance of someone who would be willing to say “yes” to Romney.

Rose and his producers might have considered taking a look at this April Politico story: “Why Jeb Bush doesn’t want to be vice president.” Jonathan Martin wrote: “Interviews with about a dozen Bush associates say …he truly doesn’t want to be on the ticket.”

Or perhaps they should have read this April Bloomberg story: “Jeb Bush Puts to Rest Talk of Being Romney Running Mate.”

In that one, Mark Silva wrote:

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, the son of one U.S. president and the brother of another, said he wants to put to rest any talk of him becoming the running mate of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

I am not going to be the veep nominee,” Bush said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Lay that to rest.”

Reporters who continue to ask Jeb Bush if he is interested in being Romney’s running mate are starting to look silly. Neither Bush nor anyone in his inner circle of advisers and friends has ever given the slightest hint that he would accept the veep job if offered.

Perhaps the media should heed Bush’s advice: “Lay that to rest.”

Correction: The text in this post originally stated that The Rise of Marco Rubio, a biography by Manuel Roig-Franzia, would be published in July. In fact, it will be published June 19. CJR regrets the error.

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Brian E. Crowley is editor of Crowley Political Report. A political journalist for more than two decades, Crowley is an analyst for WPTV NewsChannel 5 in West Palm Beach and is a principal of ImMEDIAcy Public Relations.