With Bush Announcement, the 2016 Presidential Race Gets Into Gear

Carolyn Ryan DECEMBER 17, 2014NYT FD

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Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

Good Wednesday morning from Washington, where Congress is winding down its business but the talk is all about Jeb Bush and 2016. Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont was testing the enthusiasm of liberal voters in Iowa, and in a speech in New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton said there was never any justification for the use of torture in interrogations. We also learned that Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts met privately last month with Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, a longtime Clinton supporter.

It has begun. The 2016 presidential campaign is underway.

It is absurdly early, of course, with the Iowa caucuses roughly 14 months away.

But former Gov. Jeb Bush’s announcement that he would “actively explore” a run for the White House and set up a leadership political action committee sent a thunderbolt through the Republican political world, from Capitol Hill to corporate boardrooms. And it is already causing other candidates to hasten their decisions.

A campaign by Mr. Bush would make it difficult for several other would-be candidates to run, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, reports Jonathan Martin, our national political correspondent.

A Bush candidacy would also probably spell the end of any talk of a third run byMitt Romney. And it would create a tougher path for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

A crucial reason is money. The Republican establishment has been eager to unite behind one candidate and appears most enthusiastic about Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor. Many Republican donors also have deep ties to, and a fondness for, the extended Bush family. That gives Mr. Bush a huge advantage in building a powerful financial network.

Mr. Bush’s declaration on Tuesday stopped short of an official announcement, so he can still back out. But that seems unlikely.

One thing is for sure: The prospect of a Bush candidacy unsettles many Democrats, including operatives for Hillary Rodham Clinton. By Tuesday afternoon, the Democratic National Committee had sent out a fund-raising email linking Mr. Bush to his brother, saying, “Think about how President Bush worked out last time.”