In a coffee shop in this riverfront city, Shelley, 63, and a
life-long Republican, says he is not certain which Republican
presidential candidate heíll vote for in 2016 But he knows Bush is
not his man.
"Why? Weíve just had enough of those people," he says with a laugh,
referring to the Bush dynasty that has yielded two Republican
presidents and two state governors.
But when asked on the street, many Republicans in this key state are
far less certain. In Iowa, which holds the first presidential
nominating contest in early 2016, voters are used to hearing out
candidates before judging them, they say.
That's true even for a 61-year-old former two-term governor who
carries one of the best-known political names in recent American
"This is a place that takes their vote very, very seriously," says
Bruce Calhoun, 44, a realtor.
"Itís going to take all those folks to make their way here as often
as they can ó and not just one of these quickie stops," he said of
the presidential contenders.
Carol Crain, a volunteer at the Scott County Republican headquarters
in downtown Davenport, says Republicans "are hopping around right
now" in their take of Bush. This much is clear: he will need a slew
of visits to make his case.
"People want to know him. They may disagree with him on one or two
issues but they may like him for 50 other things," Cain said.
"People have to get to know Jeb and see how he differs, or if heís
the same as his brother."
The same holds true in New Hampshire, the other traditional early
voting state. Tom Rath, a veteran state Republican strategist, said
Bush's team knows he will have to woo support there one voter at a
time like every other candidate.
"They certainly know how New Hampshire works and know the
requirements of his physical presence," he said in a telephone
Bush, who announced his exploratory candidacy on Tuesday, currently
ranks near the top of what is expected to be a crowded Republican
presidential field in most national and state polls. But pollsters
say much of that is name recognition.
"That also means he's more polarizing because a lot of people know
the Bush name, but a lot of people don't like the Bush name," said
Andrew Smith, a pollster at the University of New Hampshire Survey
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Lisa Standhill, a 38-year-old Democrat, said a Bush candidacy would
galvanize members of her party who have not forgiven former
President George W. Bush, Jebís brother, for the wars in Iraq and
"Jeb will cause big waves. Anyone who was against the war, Democrat
or Republican, will not want him near the White House. It brings up
all those years people want to forget," she said while loading
groceries outside a Walmart.
Some Iowa conservatives say what they know about Jeb Bush is
encouraging. Outside Legacy Baptist Church, a church volunteer who
would only give his name as Daniel said he prefers Bush because of
the values held by his brother and their father, former President
George H.W. Bush.
"He comes from a family that is comfortable talking about faith,
about God. We havenít had that. And we need that, especially now,"
The state's conservatives have played a prominent role in past
campaigns - Bush will face resistance from some of those voters,
largely because of his support of legal status, but not full
citizenship, for illegal immigrants. In addition: His backing of a
controversial Common Core education plan doesn't help with
But even if there are questions about what Bush stands for, there is
no question about the recognition power of the family brand. Three
childhood friends on their way from Illinois to play the slots at a
casino on the Mississippi River lit up at the mention of the Bush
"Heís as known as known can get," says Susan Montgomery, 47. "Which
means no surprises."
(Additional reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Editing by John
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