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Susan MacManus: Jeb's Announcement Will Expose 'Generational Divide' in GOP

Susan MacManus
picture of Susan MacManus

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is expected to make his long-awaited announcement Monday that he's running for president. Bush plans to speak at 3 p.m. at Miami Dade College's campus in Kendall. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus about how Bush will fare in his home state, against another favorite son and candidate, Marco Rubio.

MacManus believes there's a "generational divide" over people who are opposed to a possible "dynasty" with three Bushes in the White House.

"Even within the Republican Party, you've got the younger demographic, the milennials, who really don't care for dynasties at all, so they are very much interested in Marco Rubio," she says. "And the older Republicans - they love Jeb Bush - the policy, they follow him, they value experience. So this is where we're going to see a generational divide."

MacManus believes one of Jeb Bush's most potent weapons could be his Mexican-born wife, Columba.

"It's usually the case that spouses get a lot of news coverage - but don't have a lot of input in to how people vote," she says. "But to the point that she can open doors - particularly with Latinas, who don't vote at quite the same levels as say, black women. That could be helpful. And of course the fact that she's a Mexican -as opposed to a Cuban - that can open some doors for the non-Cuban Hispanic vote, which is now larger than the Cuban vote in Florida."

She says having two of the top candidates from Florida will make the state even more important in the presidential contest.

"We're going to be a huge factor - we have been for the last three or four election cycles," says MacManus. "There's only been one percent difference between the winners and losers in Florida for the last three election cycles. And there's not a person I know that think's it'll be a bit different this time out."

And MacManus says it's too early to put too much trust in polls, because candidates have plenty of time to stumble.

"People who'll look at a poll today and think that that's really the way it's going to turn out - that's a big gamble, " she says. "And I'm not one who subscribes to giving a lot of weight to these early polls - other than the fact that leading in these early polls does help raise money. "

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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