Now that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is "actively exploring" the possibility of running for president, his likely Republican competitors are actively exploring ways to discredit him. Sen. Rand Paul took the first shot on Tuesday, asserting that Bush would have trouble prevailing in the GOP primaries due to his support for the Common Core State Standards. Paul told The Washington Post that Common Core would be a "big problem" for Bush.
I expect that Paul is right. Very right. Common Core is set of national curriculum standards that the federal government strong-armed states into adopting. The standards erode local autonomy over education policy and are extremely costly to implement. They have also produced plenty of confused teachers, parents, and children—and are anathema to the conservative base.
It's true that Mitt Romney managed to win the nomination despite having an unpalatable former position on his election's pivotal issue—Obamacare. But Romney managed to hedge his previous support for the program by insisting that he never would have taken it to the federal level. Bush, on the other hand, isn't hedging his Common Core support one iota. He remains the most high-profile supporter of national education standards on the right.
Anyone who expects rank-and-file conservatives to overlook the issue is underestimating the extent of anti-Common Core sentiment among the electorate. Bush's support for Common Core won't help him much with independents or liberals, either, since the standards aren't very popular with those groups.
Given how badly Republican primary voters want politicians to take a stand against Common Core, I don't think the dreaded spectre of another Bush vs. Clinton showdown is a reasonable fear.
More from Reason on Common Core and the Republicans here.