The sometimes rocky trial phase of Jeb Bush's presidential campaign will come to a close June 15, when the former Florida governor is expected to make his candidacy official. He'll announce at the Kendall campus of Miami Dade College, a location that highlights Bush's desire to expand the GOP's electoral base beyond white voters.
He tweeted a teaser on Thursday morning.
On a practical level, the official announcement means Bush can no longer legally coordinate with his Right to Rise Super PAC. Right to Rise has been his main fundraising vehicle, and it has drawn scrutiny because critics say he's tested the bounds of campaign finance law by coordinating with it while delaying the official launch of his campaign.
More important, though, the launch is an opportunity for Bush to reach out to Hispanic, black, and female voters who constitute the vast majority of Miami Dade's student body. It's also a chance to shake off the rust that clung to him in early appearances and show he's the kind of candidate — like his father, George H. W. Bush, and his brother George W. Bush — who can win the presidency.
Righting the ship
"It got a little bumpy, but all is well now," he said at an event in New Hampshire last month after struggling over a week's worth of interviews and public remarks to come to the conclusion that he wouldn't have invaded Iraq in 2003 given what is now known.
For those who thought Bush could shock-and-awe his way into the Republican nod, the early months of his still-unofficial candidacy have shown he'll have to make his way through a labyrinthine GOP primary fight. He's been criticized by fellow Republicans for his positions on immigration and Common Core education standards and has found it difficult to break free from his rivals in the polls.
Still, he'll make his announcement from the Kendall campus of Miami Dade College as one of a breakaway pack of frontrunners, along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Bush has a meaninglessly slight edge over the other two in the RealClearPolitics average of recent polls, which puts him at 13.2 percent, Walker at 12.5 percent, and Rubio at 12 percent.
The location pick should emphasize Bush's longtime interest in education policy and his desire to expand the Republican Party's outreach to minorities.
"Miami Dade is the country's largest college, with a diverse student body filled with those looking for the opportunity to rise up and achieve their dreams," Bush spokesman Tim Miller said.
The student body is almost entirely Hispanic and black. In fall 2014, 71 percent of credit-seeking students at Miami Dade were Hispanic, and 17 percent were black, according to figures compiled by the school. With Hillary Clinton the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, another figure in Miami Dade's profile jumps out: 58 percent of the credit-seeking students are women.
The Clinton in the room
Speaking of Clinton, the timing of Bush's announcement — two days after the longtime Democratic candidate holds her first rally in New York — could steal some of her thunder.
For now, Bush's aides won't confirm that his announcement will be that he's running.
"Governor Bush is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received from so many Americans during the last several months and looks forward to announcing his decision," Miller said.
But Bush recently let it slip: "I'm running for president," he said, before catching himself and adding an "if."