- LOS ANGELES -- The
polished young man speaking on Univision, the biggest Spanish-language
TV channel in the US, might have been a movie star. Or perhaps, with his
fluent Spanish and handsome features, a sports star.
- Or he might be the next member of the Bush dynasty to
take to the political stage and become possibly, just possibly, the first
Hispanic president of the US.
- Meet George P Bush, 28, nephew to W, grandson of H, son
- "George P Bush is a tremendous asset to the family,"
said Dario Moreno, director of Florida International University's Metropolitan
Centre. "He's obviously Hispanic, he's an attractive young man, he's
articulate and he's a Bush. That's a powerful combination. It raises the
dynastic possibility, and it could be a hoot if the first Hispanic president
of the US is a Bush."
- George P Bush's TV appearance last week came as he completed
a four-day swing through Mexico, ostensibly to encourage US citizens living
abroad - there are 1 million in Mexico - to vote in November's election,
preferably for his uncle.
- But the visit also served to remind the Latino community
that he is there and to let them know that his uncle and the whole family
understand the Latino experience.
- With over 6.7 million Latinos expected to vote in November's
election, their votes are crucial, especially in Florida, the state which
handed the election to George W Bush in 2000 by a little over 500 votes.
- With a large Cuban-American population, it is vital for
Republicans and Democrats to mobilise support in the state. The Republicans
have several advantages: Cuban-Americans tend, unlike most other Latino
groups, to vote Republican; and they have the president's brother, Jeb,
Florida's governor, to help remind them. And now they have Jeb's son to
help them make up their minds.
- George P Bush - the P stands for Prescott - is the son
of Jeb Bush, the president's brother and governor of Florida, and his wife
Columba, who was born in Mexico, the daughter of migrant worker Jose MarÌa
- George P first emerged as a political asset in the 2000
presidential campaign, when he gave a well-received speech at the Republican
national convention and appeared in Spanish-language TV commercials for
his uncle's campaign. He also became a minor celebrity, making his way
on to a list of the nation's 100 most eligible bachelors.
- He studied law at the University of Texas at Austin,
where he met his wife, Amanda, whom he married earlier this month at a
ceremony attended by the entire Bush family. Earlier this year he left
his position as an assistant to a Dallas judge and spent the summer as
an intern with two leading south Florida law firms.
- "That strengthens the family's political base in
Miami," said Mr Moreno. "And it lays the groundwork for an eventual
entry into politics. It seems clear to me that he's being groomed."
- George P's trip to Mexico, however, did not go entirely
smoothly. He made outspoken comments about events in Venezuela, calling
President Hugo Ch·vez a dictator, an epithet his uncle's administration
has strenuously avoided of late, and waded into a controversy about the
US border patrol's use of guns which fire plastic pellets packed with chili
- "If there has been American approval for this policy,
that is reprehensible," Mr Bush said. "It's kind of barbarous."
He blamed the use of the guns on "some local INS [immigration service]
guy who's trying to be tough, act macho." In fact, the use of the
guns is federal policy.
- But he made good use of his proximity to power, referring
constantly to "mi tÌo" - my uncle - and promising that
with the war in Iraq "almost done with", his uncle will turn
his attention back to relations between the US and the countries that lie
to the south.
- "There's a long tradition in American politics of
using surrogates," said Harry Pachon, president of the Tom·s
Rivera Policy Institute, an independent thinktank in Los Angeles. "The
young Bush is an excellent example. He's very confident, he speaks Spanish.
I can see him being used for outreach to Latinos." However, a survey
published last month by the thinktank of 1,600 registered Latino voters
across the country found that while they liked the current president on
a personal basis, they did not agree with his policies. And the judgment
was based not on issues to do with immigration, but the war in Iraq, the
economy, and education.
- Although President Bush captured 35% of registered Latino
voters in 2000, the survey showed John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, claiming
60% of registered Latino voters this year and Mr Bush 30%.
- "Fourteen percent of marines are Hispanic,"
said Dr Pachon. "The war in Iraq is not a distant event. They can
make a distinction between the man and his policies. It shows that they
are an increasingly sophisticated part of the electorate."
- That sophistication, said Mr Moreno, might find its reflection
in the president's nephew. "He shows that not all Hispanics are poor
Mexican immigrants. It's a very powerful message. He represents how much
the country has changed. Here's an old Yankee family that has a Hispanic
- "Hispanics see a Hispanic, but they also see a grandson
and a nephew of two American presidents. They know his experience is very
different from theirs. But there's a pride and a recognition of how the
stereotypes of Hispanics are changing."
- Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited