July 22, 2010 -- This probably isn't the first time you've heard someone ask if Jeb Bush is going to run for president. It won't be the last.
Political dynasties don't just die off, especially when they control the presidency for 12 of 22 years and have in their depth chart the extremely popular former governor of a key swing state.
Some political observers say by all rights, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush should be running for president. He has strong conservative credentials, an impeccable political pedigree, can appeal to the all-important Hispanic population, and could do well in his home state, which is populous, up for grabs, and often decides general elections.
But if you go to his website, jeb.org, there is a blank page. Is it waiting to be filled with a platform? Or is it left over from older ambitions?
No doubt the Bush brand is damaged. When Jeb's brother George W. left office in 2009, fewer than three in ten Americans approved of his presidency.
But there is hope among Republicans that stigma is beginning to fade.
"I think a lot of people are looking back with a little -- with more fondness on President Bush's administration, and I think history will treat him well," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex, who is in charge of getting Republicans elected to the Senate in 2010, told C-Span this week.
Many conservatives have long hoped Jeb Bush would play a bigger national role, but he has kept a low profile since leaving the Florida governor's mansion in 2007.
The question that lingers on many Republican lips when asked about whether he should join the fray and run for President is this: "Is it too soon?"
The answers vary.
"Given the way the Obama administration is going, I think it's not too soon," said one Florida Republican who asked not be identified so as not to appear to be taking sides.
"It's just too soon," said one Washington Republican who requested anonymity for the same reason.
Jeb Bush has been out of office for two years and owns a consulting business, which doesn't appear to have any website. He is a senior advisor to Barclay's Capitol and operates two foundations that focus on his favorite policy issue – education. Read about those here and here.
Jeb Bush Slowly Raising National Profile
He gives an occasional interview to Fox News.
Bush has a canned answer for when interviewers ask him if he is interested in running for president.
"There are probably 10 people right now who wake up and say what do I have to do to get in position to run for president or be president. Maybe more than that, and I'm not one of them," he told Fox back in February.
But in recent months, Jeb has been slowly, quietly, but certainly raising his profile.
He gave a feisty interview to a New York Times political writer in June in which he said his older brother probably would not respond to President Obama's continued attempts to draw contrasts between his own administration and the previous one.
Jeb defended his brother and predicted only one term for President Obama, who he compared to "Hubert Humphrey on steroids."
He has been endorsing a slew of Republican candidates in primary races, most of them in races outside of Florida and most of whom share his outlook on education, which is also the one area where he gives President Obama high marks.
Most of his endorsements are for gubernatorial candidates – in Bill McCollum in Florida, Meg Whitman in California, John Kasich in Ohio, Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Brian Sandoval in Nevada, and Bill Brady in Illinois. Most recently, he endorsed Rep. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma and Chris Cox, Richard Nixon's grandson, who is running for Congress in New York.
He also endorsed Marco Rubio, the conservative who ran more moderate Gov. Charlie Crist out of the Republican Party in this year's Senate race. Crist is now running as an independent, a move for which Bush excoriated Crist, surprising some Florida political watchers.
"His higher profile shouldn't be surprising considering Jeb's passion for public service and policy," said Adam Smith, who is political editor at the St. Petersburg Times. "What was surprising I think was how vocally Bush criticized Gov. Crist before Crist switched parties. Crist certainly had snubbed Jeb and his allies, but it's unprecedented in Florida to have a former governor so aggressively go after a sitting governor the way Jeb Bush did."
Jeb Bush Steering Toward Road to White House?
While his support of Rubio will endear Bush to mainstream Republicans and his CV includes limited government bona fides – cutting taxes and earmarks and culling the state workforce – Jeb Bush has moderate views on things like immigration. He opposes the controversial immigration law in Arizona, which would require local police and sheriffs to pursue and detain people they suspect are illegal immigrants.
"I don't think this is the proper approach," Bush told Politico in April. He is among the few remaining Republicans who continue to support a more comprehensive approach to immigration reform. Bush is married to a Latina and has three biracial children. His son, George P., has been active in trying to attract Hispanic voters to the Republican Party, an aim that could be complicated by the Arizona law and the current hard-line stance among most Republicans toward immigration.
There is some indication that Jeb Bush is making inroads among the energized Tea Party base of the Republican Party; he will headline a private fundraiser for Rand Paul, the Tea Party-favored Republican running for Senate in Kentucky.
For all the endorsements and fundraisers, however, Bush seems content in private life, according to the St. Petersburg journalist Smith.
"He's said to be enjoying private life working alongside his son, but no matter what he says it seems foolish to rule out him running for some public office at some point again - whether it's the presidency or something out of the box like mayor of Miami," he said.
NOTE: Bush declined an interview request for this story, but a spokeswoman provided facts about his list of endorsements and his biography.
UPDATE: After his appearance at a fundraiser for Rand Paul and before a speech in Kentucky to the National Conference of State Legislatures, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush tells a local TV crew pretty clearly "I am not running for President."