Jeb Bush’s tea party problem

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Jamie Weinstein
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      Jamie Weinstein

      Jamie Weinstein is Senior Editor of The Daily Caller. His work has appeared in The Weekly Standard, the New York Daily News and The Washington Examiner, among many other publications. He also worked as the Collegiate Network Journalism Fellow at Roll Call Newspaper and is the winner of the 2011 "Funniest Celebrity in Washington" contest. A regular on Fox News and other cable news outlets, Weinstein received a master’s degree in the history of international relations from the London School of Economics in 2009 and a bachelor's degree in history and government from Cornell University in 2006. He is the author of the political satire, "The Lizard King: The Shocking Inside Account of Obama's True Intergalactic Ambitions by an Anonymous White House Staffer."

If Jeb Bush runs for the Republican presidential nomination, he may face pushback from the tea party — and not just for the reasons you might expect.

With Chris Christie faltering, the former Florida governor is reportedly calling major donors to discuss a possible presidential run. But tea party leaders, both nationally and in Florida, tell The Daily Caller that Bush would have trouble getting their support because of his strong backing of Common Core.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative defines itself as “a state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt,” according to its website. So far, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted Common Core’s standards in full, while Minnesota has adopted its English language arts standards.

Conservative critics of Common Core, however, fear it will become a federal takeover of education, complete with a national curriculum. While the National Governors Association was the driving force behind developing the Common Core standards, President Barack Obama’s Department of Education has since become a major advocate.

Laurie Newsom, president of Gainesville Tea Party, told TheDC that Bush’s support for Common Core “will be impossible for him to overcome” if he runs for president.

“[H]e enthusiastically supports the federal educational platform Common Core which seriously taints his political platform,” she said.

Keith Wilson, head of Deland, Florida’s 912 tea party group, echoed Newsom’s position.

“We have done extensive research into Common Core and Jeb Bush has been and still is too involved in it,” he said. “Jeb has been great other than that. It will be as big a failure as Obamacare and Jeb will be blamed for it in Florida by our local groups.”

“His Common Core involvement is going to be a total deal breaker for most in Volusia County,” he added.

Randy McLendon, founder of the Englewood, Florida tea party group Taking Our Country Back, voiced a similar concern.

“The main criticism at this point is his very vocal support of Common Core and his harsh words of criticism for its opponents,” McLendon explained, while noting Bush was “well liked as a [g]overnor.”

National tea party groups also point to Bush’s support for Common Core as problematic.

“In the years after his governorship, Jeb has supported greater government control of school curriculum, rather than allow parents to make the best choice for their children,” Tea Party Patriots head Jenny Beth Martin told TheDC, explaining why she believes tea partiers couldn’t support a Bush campaign for president.

“On Common Core, which is an issue that many tea party folks really care about, he is not only on the wrong side, but he is leading the charge in the wrong direction,” Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance, said. “The Common Core issue will probably be a deal killer for the tea party at large.”