Will a moderate republican with a widely scorned surname have a ghost of a chance? Stay tuned.
“You give him credit for facing his critics and getting out of the bubble of fundraisers and policy speeches,” said Kellyanne Conway, who is managing CPAC’s straw poll. “I don’t think he’s necessarily entering hostile territory, but it’s a less natural habitat for him.”
Carefully watching will be handicappers in the Republican donor and consultant communities who will measure just how far Bush goes to ingratiate himself with conservatives, and whether he is still willing, as he said months ago, to “lose the primary to win the general.”
“A lot of the more centrist speakers are going to face some pretty tough questions,” said Brett O’Donnell, one of the GOP’s top debate coaches. “But folks who consider themselves introverts usually are more comfortable and perform better when they’re carrying on a conversation with the crowd.”