German media praise ‘clever, curious’ Bush

German media had some enthusiastic words for Jeb Bush after a visit to Berlin last week and his presidential candidacy announcement on Monday, but the press still had trouble distancing him from his less popular brother.

German media praise 'clever, curious' Bush
Jeb Bush speaks in Berlin on June 9th. Photo: DPA.

Süddeutsche Zeitung called him the “clever Bush”.

“Jeb is more clever, more curious and more unconventional than George W.,” the newspaper wrote.

Die Welt declared him “the man for minorities”.

And Der Spiegel dubbed him “Bush Light”.

Jeb Bush has certainly caught the German media's attention, perhaps more than other Republican candidates due to his family's history with Germany.

“He seems to be getting a lot of press here. Germans tend to prefer him more than some of the others, I believe,” Thomas Leiser, chairman of Republicans Overseas Germany, told The Local.

Bush, the brother of George W. Bush and son of George H. W. Bush, just came off the heels of a European tour of Poland, Estonia and Berlin, which many said was intended to strengthen his foreign policy credentials leading up to the anticipated announcement.

In Berlin, he spoke at an economic conference for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party (CDU) about the need for the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement (TTIP), his father’s role in supporting German reunification at the end of the Cold War and a desire to stand strong against Russia.

Bild tabloid newspaper gushed at the time that their reporter got to meet Bush, who “maybe soon” could be the “most powerful man in the world”.

But Bush’s Berlin visit certainly didn’t receive the kind of fanfare that a similar trip made by President Barack Obama during his first campaign did, with broadcaster N-TV saying Jeb “gave the impression of being quite shy”.

Obama, on the other hand, spoke in 2008 to a crowd of hundreds of thousands in the German capital and had to pause his speech several times while people cheered and whistled.

“This city of all cities knows the dream of freedom,” Obama said at the time to a roar of applause.

Bush, however, spoke to about 2,000 people and had just a brief moment to chit-chat with Merkel while shaking hands.

Germans welcome a “battle of dynasties” 

The press in Germany also were abuzz about the prospect of Bush facing off against Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, whose presidential bid also drew attention in the country and who said in her own visit to Berlin last year that it was time the US had a female leader, like Merkel.

Given Clinton's husband Bill's presidential tenure, German news outlets said the election race could become a “battle of dynasties”.

Clinton seems to have an edge over Bush in that regard among Germans, according to a recent poll that showed 5 percent of respondents had a positive view of Bush, while 59 percent thought well of Clinton.

Distance from Obama, and from brother

In recent years, Obama’s reputation in Germany has soured due to revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had conducted widespread surveillance, including tapping Merkel’s cell phone.

Bush has tried to distance himself from Obama, but has had trouble separating himself from the legacy of his brother.

George W. – who famously attempted to give a very unwelcome back-rub to Chancellor Angela Merkel – is quite disliked by Germans, of whom only 14 percent said they had “some confidence” in him by the end of his term.

When Jeb Bush visited Berlin, a Der Spiegel Washington correspondent wrote “US Candidate Jeb Bush: Not without his brother”.

Bush focused his Berlin speech on the role his father played supporting in German reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall, rather than discussing his brother’s presidency.

Since Jeb’s official announcement, several German news outlets took note that official campaign banners and logos only use his first name, omitting his divisive last name.

“He seems to be playing up his first name and playing down his last name,” said Leiser, an admitted Bush supporter, “which I suspect makes some sense.”

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