Terri Schiavo’s husband has strongly condemned former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s announcement this week that he is exploring a run for president in 2016.
Bush fought Michael Schiavo during the final years of his battle to end his wife’s life by removing her access to food and water. Schiavo eventually won, leading to her early death in 2005.
On Wednesday, Schiavo told Think Progress that a Bush presidency would represent “a government that’s gonna intrude on your life, [and] enforce their personal views on you.”
Terri had been severely disabled for fifteen years and required a feeding tube to live, but her husband wanted to remove it, saying she was in a “vegetative state.” Her parents fought him through the courts for over a decade.
The case drew national and international attention, though eventually Bush was forced to back down as a law he signed, called Terri’s law, was declared unconstitutional. The case became a rallying cry for social conservatives.
After his wife's death, Schiavo — who had children with a woman while Terri was on the feeding tube — started a PAC that endorsed ardent opponents of the U.S. involvement in Iraq, as well as right-to-die candidates. The PAC was called TerriPAC, after his deceased wife.
Schiavo is not the only early critic of Bush's presidential aspirations.
Observers expect that Bush will run for the nomination as a business-minded candidate with little focus on so-called “social issues.” He has called the marriage fight a “distraction,” and is often viewed as not wanting to engage on abortion.
Though he enjoyed widespread conservative support during his eight years as Florida governor, Bush's support for Common Core education standards and looser immigration laws has earned him dislike from a number of leading conservatives.
“Bush is out telling donors…that he is not gonna compromise his principles like others have in order to get the nomination, meaning he’s not gonna pander to the tea party,” said radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. “He’s not gonna pander to conservatives. He’s gonna show that you can win the Republican Party nomination without securing the base.”
Likewise, National Journal's Josh Kraushaar wrote that “Bush can't afford to simply dismiss the conservative critics and run a general-election strategy from the outset. He'll need to aggressively win the debate from within.”
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Not all pundits view Bush's willingness to sway from conservative orthodoxy as a negative characteristic. Writing for The Week, Marc Ambinder said that Bush “represents the business wing of the party, which also happens to be its donor class. He is their ideal candidate.”
According to Ambinder, “Bush's biggest opportunity corresponds to the biggest hole in the GOP platform: its radio silence on practical economic solutions for the middle class, which, it turns out, corresponds to the biggest bread-and-butter concern that Americans repeatedly chastise Washington for not addressing.”
Likewise, pundit Charles Krauthammer said Bush's announcement made him “an instant frontrunner” in the race, and said the decision would likely keep “fringe candidates” out of the race.
While in office, Bush was considered a conservative governor on tax, education, budget, and life issues. On social issues, in addition to the Schiavo effort, Bush opposed embryonic stem-cell research and signed a parental notification law. He also supported “choose life” license plates, and asked a court to choose a representative for the fetus of a mentally disabled victim of rape.
Common Core, however, has cost him support among religiously conservative Americans, many of whom reject Common Core as a usurpation of parental rights.
His path to the GOP nomination may be complicated by the likely crowded field of candidates. They include former Sen. Rick Santorum, Sens. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Rand Paul, R-KY, and Govs. Mike Pence, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie.
Jeb is the son of George H.W. Bush, who was president from 1989 to 1993, and the younger brother of George W. Bush, president from 2001 to 2009.