GOP Looks to Jeb Bush on ‘Pocketbook Issues’

By Teddy Davis

Apr 17, 2009 11:17am

ABC News’ Teddy Davis reports: Jeb Bush, the former president’s brother, passed on the chance to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. But he has emerged as an influential adviser to Republican candidates on "pocketbook issues," according to the two GOP governors who run the Republican Governors Association. "What Jeb does and says is very influential in our party because he was an enormously successful governor," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), the vice chairman of the RGA, told ABC News. "He’s a solid conservative, he made reforms in Florida state government, reforms that a lot of other states have tried to emulate." Bush, according to a recent interview with the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, is advising his party to run campaigns based on what he calls the five "food groups": energy/environment, budget/governemnt reform, health care, education, and the economy. ABC News has learned that Bush dispenses advice on policy initiatives and candidate training to the RGA by having a regular dialogue with Nick Ayers, the group’s executive director. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), the RGA’s chairman and a possible presidential candidate in 2012, said the "common theme" in Bush’s "basket of issues" is the "pocket-book" impact. "I think Jeb may be clairvoyant on this one," Sanford told ABC News. "There’s some huge pocketbook issues that I think are going to give Republican governors in the 2010 election cycle a real leg up." While Bush is hailed as "clairvoyant" by the RGA’s chairman, Democrats are using his re-emergence to once again tie Republicans to former President George W. Bush’s record on the economy.    "After eight years of Bushonomics turning to a Bush for pocketbook advice is like turning to Dick Cheney for hunting advice," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan. Asked if Bush’s advisory role could inadvertently hand Democrats ammunition to use against Republican candidates, RGA spokesman Mike Schrimpf said, "Everyone knows that Governor Bush has one of the top policy minds in the country. Moreover, tax-hiking Democratic governors like Jon Corzine and David Paterson should look enviously upon Governor Bush’s record." ABC News’ Ferdous Al-Faruque contributed to this report.

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