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Now and afresh in an contrarily characterless speech, Jeb Bush will bead a acknowledgment of his wife, like a abrupt pop of color. At an accident in Nevada this March, one of his aboriginal speeches of this attack season, afore a army of what The Washington Cavalcade alleged “everyday Americans,” Bush opened with a husband-still-in-thrall routine. His life, he said, can be disconnected into two parts: “b.c. and a.c.—before Columba and afterwards Columba,” apropos to Columba Garnica de Gallo, the woman he fell absurdly in adulation with while on a high-school cruise to Mexico and afresh affiliated 41 years ago.
The crowd, abounding of seniors and some Spanish speakers, awwwed and cheered. Columba herself was not in attendance. Conceivably because he hadn’t clearly declared his antagonism for the Republican presidential nomination, she acquainted no bustle to affirmation her appellation as candidate’s wife.
Friends of the Bush ancestors to this day acquaint belief of Jeb and Columba’s abysmal and accessible amore for ceremony other. And yet by any aboveboard admeasurement of compatibility—family background, interests, personality, account about a affable way to absorb an afternoon—they assume to accept actual little in common. Take, for example, her husband’s constant career amore and the capital captivation of his ancestors for at atomic three generations. In 2001, afterwards she’d been the aboriginal adult of Florida for two years, a anchorman asked whether she and her bedmate talked about accompaniment policy. “Never,” she answered. “We allocution about our babe and sons, and bodies and dogs and asinine things.”
The role of political apron consistently entails sacrifice, but Columba’s case has been extreme. Jeb’s time in appointment coincided with stretches aback Columba was reportedly unhappy, because of his absence or because of troubles with one of their three accouchement or because she herself had landed in the account in agency that abashed her. It was during Jeb Bush’s administering years that Columba let it blooper to the columnist how her husband’s career had damaged their children, and that she reportedly told Jeb he had bankrupt her life. During his governorship, which ran from 1999 to 2007, she generally aloof to Miami while he was active in Tallahassee.
All of which makes you admiration what it will be like for her to animate through a civic attack and possibly a presidency, during which the approach she’s enjoyed atomic will become her absolute existence. In the Jackie Kennedy years, she ability accept gotten abroad with a smile, a few acknowledging speeches, and an adapted account or two. (One of the attenuate YouTube videos of Columba shows her giving a Jackie-like bout of her abode to a Spanish-speaking TV anchor.) But feminist attrition to the abstraction of wife as bashful prop has in some agency put added burden on a aboriginal adult to be austere and beefy and adequate in advanced of the camera, giving addition like Columba no accessible abode to hide.
Despite her in-laws’ history, and admitting eight years of actuality the aboriginal adult of Florida, Columba has consistently talked about backroom as if it’s article that faraway, conflicting bodies do. When, in 1992, a anchorman from The Miami Herald asked her whether she was adequate her father-in-law’s presidential campaign, she said, “I appetite to go aback to my kitchen, to do the appointment with my kids, and—why not—to watch television.”
“She had the best bound role of any apron I’ve anytime formed with,” a architect on Jeb’s 2002 reelection attack told me. Columba would participate in contest now and again, but anybody accepted that a accessible role “was not in her abundance zone.” Her access was acquainted on the attack mostly because associates of the agents knew that they generally had to accomplish abiding Jeb concluded his canicule aboriginal abundant to be home for dinner. Those who apperceive her able-bodied acrylic her as the anti–Claire Underwood, the political apron on Abode of Cards. You could additionally alarm her as the anti–Bill Clinton, her accessible analogue in abutting year’s accepted election. “She is not somebody who is account any political advertisement or absorbed in actuality in the allowance to strategize tactics. She is absolutely aloof in that,” says Jim Towey, a acquaintance of the couple’s who served in George W. Bush’s administration. “In backroom you get a lot of carbon people. And she is so not the clone.”
Who she is is a harder question, due in allotment to her abhorrence to advance a accessible persona or allocution to the press. (She wouldn’t allocution to me, alike with attack division heating up, although Jeb and I corresponded.) Bush loyalists barb at the abstraction that Columba would accept agitation applicable into the role of aboriginal adult in the White House. One scolded me that the columnist was aloof actuality “stupid” and “lazy” by adage that she hates accessible activity and declining to accept all the causes she has taken up over the accomplished 15 or so years.
It’s accurate that she has adopted first-lady-worthy causes, animate with the Florida Coalition Adjoin Domestic Violence, the Centermost on Addiction and Substance Abuse, and Arts for Life, a accumulation that gives scholarships to adolescent artists. By all accounts, she advocates agilely and effectively, visiting shelters, belief letters on addiction in adolescence, putting calm exhibitions, and abutting donors with charities. Anybody I interviewed who’s formed with her says she doesn’t seek the limelight, nor alike any acceptance for her actions—which is admirable. It’s admirable, too, that she’s been able to remain, well, normal, admitting her alliance into such a activating political clan. But as a avant-garde aboriginal lady, she’ll be accepted to appear out from abaft the scenes. And whether she brand it or not, what she does and how she feels will affect her bedmate as a actuality and as a candidate—and that coaction will be endlessly dissected.
These days, Columba’s abhorrence for accessible life, historically a antecedent of animation for Jeb, is actuality reframed as a balm. “What he loves about Columba is that she’s an affecting ballast for him,” Ana Navarro, a ancestors acquaintance and a Republican strategist, told me. “She lives alfresco the political balloon and brings his focus aback to the absolutely important things in life, like ancestors and accompany and faith.”
“Everyone seeks affecting refuge,” Al Cardenas, addition ancestors acquaintance and a above arch of the Florida Republican Party, told me. “And that’s what she provides. She brings acumen into a apple abounding with politics.” But alike Cardenas seemed to faculty that it can be adamantine to accept of them as a couple, like Bill and Hillary or Brad and Angelina, because she’s so absent from the about arresting genitalia of Jeb’s world. So at the end of our conversation, he acquainted the charge to accomplish it absolute to me, about Jeb’s wife of 41 years: “Look, he loves her unconditionally. She is a major, basic allotment of his life.””
Jeb Bush’s allure of Columba at 17 is possibly the best conflicting affair he’s anytime done. In a ancestors area the sons commonly accept their wives from a baby association circle, Jeb’s best registered as baffling, alike reckless. In 1970, as a arch at Phillips Academy, a boarding academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he took a chic alleged Man and Society, which explored poverty, conflicts, and the dynamics of power. At the end of the winter term, the acceptance could accept to absorb three months either in a poor adjacency in South Boston or in a poor aboriginal apple alfresco León, Mexico. Jeb was from Texas and already belief Spanish. Along with 10 added classmates, he autonomous to skip the Boston winter.
“We absolutely congenital a schoolhouse,” Jeb’s above acquaintance Lawry Bump told me. All these years later, Bump still thinks about the cruise sometimes, because it was a “real awakening.” They formed every day to complete the structure; Jeb was quoted in the apprentice cardboard adage that one of the villagers cried with appreciation. In the backward afternoons, the acceptance would all accommodated up in the capital capital in León and eat—bacon and pancakes for the agnate of 40 cents—and afresh in the evenings they’d sometimes get calm at one of the houses area they were blockage to booze and comedy poker.
As Jeb tells the story, one day he saw 16-year-old Columba beyond the capital and it was adulation at aboriginal sight. “Lightning” is how he put it to The Boston Globe. She was not a association babe from Mexico City. Alike by the standards of abandoned León, she was on the amusing fringe. Ancestors accept declared her as a free-spirit babe of a distant mother in a association where, in her own words, annulment was a sin.
Not that it affairs abundant now, but Bump’s adaptation of the couple’s affair is a little different. He says that addition classmate, John Schmitz, had met Columba’s earlier sister, Lucila. Schmitz bare a wingman for a bifold date and alleged Bump. “As abundant as I would accept admired to accept been set up with a babe bottomward there, I absolutely had about a 104-degree agitation and was bottomward with Montezuma’s revenge,” Bump told me. “The abutting move for John was to get with Jeb.” (“I don’t apperceive if he would accept met Columba on his own,” Al Cardenas says. “You know, Jeb’s added of an introvert. He’s not the blazon to go up to an conflicting babe and say, ‘Hi. I’m Jeb Bush. Let’s accept a cup of coffee.’ ”)
I asked Jeb by e-mail about their aboriginal encounters, because lightning seemed like a chat out of a affair atypical and not absolutely real. Here is how he elaborated:
For the aftermost ages of their acreage trip, the added Phillips Academy kids did not see abundant of John and Jeb. Those two spent their time double-dating, active about in Lucila’s car. From the start, Jeb told his classmates that he was in love. At the end of the trip, he told them all he was not activity home with them; instead he was demography Columba on a cruise to Acapulco.
To Jeb’s friends, it looked like affair Columba accustomed Jeb to achieve into who he absolutely was. Afore that Mexico trip, Jeb had been accepted in academy as a acceptable tennis player, an aloof student, a bit of a bully, and a toker, a guy whose allowance you could go to in adjustment to get high. “I was a contemptuous little turd at a contemptuous school,” he already said.
Yet by the time Jeb alternate to Andover, he had matured. He fabricated the account cycle for the aboriginal time and aggregate a award-winning for a history paper. “He aloof wasn’t messing about as abundant with drugs and alcohol,” Bump recalled. “Everyone knew he had changed. We ample he was aloof adherent to her.” The partying and activity that characterized his earlier brother, George W., into his 40s, Jeb got out of his arrangement afore he angry 18.
He accelerating from academy in two and a bisected years, “thanks to a newfound focus,” he already said. During the holidays in 1973, he proposed to Columba, in Spanish, at a Mexico Burghal restaurant. She took a day to answer, afresh gave him a peace-symbol ring. Aback he alleged his parents, George and Barbara, and told them he was activity to accessory Columba, that was additionally lightning—the account hit like a bolt “from a West Texas thunderstorm,” address Peter and Rochelle Schweizer in their 2004 book, The Bushes: Account of a Dynasty. Jeb did not acquaint Columba to his ancestor until a baby banquet appropriate afore the wedding. “How I anguish about Jeb and Columba,” Barbara wrote in her diary. “Does she adulation him?” The bells took abode at the Catholic apprentice centermost at the University of Texas at Austin. Columba batten no English, so genitalia of the account were conducted in Spanish. “Colu’s access into the Bush ancestors would prove difficult, a action that alike afterwards thirty years is still a assignment in progress,” the Schweizers address in their book. “At ancestors gatherings the ancestors would laugh, play, and acquaint stories. Colu would aloof sit, smile, and wonder.”
“Nobody absolutely knows Columba,” Towey told me in February. “She is actual private, and on abounding levels, her activity is captivated in mystery.”
Various account about her accept developed to ample that void. She brand authoritative “huevos rancheros for breakfast” and “for a absolute treat” hires a mariachi bandage to comedy for her friends. She enjoys “simple Latin book like jamón serrano at basic restaurants.” She would “trade 20 association galas” for one dank telenovela in the abundance of her home. This is the indigenous acidity that has been alloyed and remixed into abounding profiles over the years, about accounting from afar. (These quotes are from the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, respectively.) Compare this with what was said about Judith Steinberg, Howard Dean’s wife and the aftermost presidential contender’s apron who had little absorption in political activity and rarely talked to the press. She, too, was generally declared as shy. But because she was a Princeton-educated Jewish doctor, the blush that abounding the bare about her was different: “smartest babe in med school”; “I-don’t-know-how-she-does-it animate mom”; “blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled.”
Friends of the Bush ancestors tend to alarm Columba in mystical or aesthetic terms. “Jeb aloof soldiers on, man. He’s consistently on fast-forward,” Towey, now the admiral of Ave Maria University, in Florida, told me. “But Columba, she ponders. She’s abundant added introspective, abundant added about the concealed world.” In 2003, Towey and Columba were allotment of a appointment to Rome to bless John Paul II’s 25th ceremony as pope. The accumulation was affective through Saint Peter’s Basilica, in Vatican City, aback addition noticed that Columba was missing. Towey went to attending for her and begin her admiration at a ancillary altar, agilely praying, and that angel has ashore with him. “That’s Columba. Anyone that says ‘I apperceive her’? They don’t.”
Or maybe that’s aloof hagiographic nonsense. Romero Britto, a Miami artisan and a acceptable acquaintance of Columba’s, says it’s nonsense. “It’s like, one day you’re a clandestine citizen, and afresh aback you are a accessible amount and anybody wants to apperceive added about you. She’s not mysterious. She’s aloof a accustomed actuality who loves her ancestors and does the things she likes.”
A New York Times adventure in February declared Columba as an artist, acquainted that she had aloof corrective a account of a cat. Britto says she does not acrylic cats, although he does. She’s an ardent adherent of the arts, not an artist—though she has said she capital to be an artisan aback she was younger.
If Bill Clinton could be alleged the aboriginal atramentous president, Jeb Bush could conceivably authorize as the aboriginal Hispanic one. (The Times afresh appear that he already arrested the “Hispanic” box on a voter-registration form. Twitter jeered.) Admitting the ancestors lineage, the Bushes like to “keep animate the allegory of the self-made man,” says Doug Wead, who served as an adviser to both Presidents Bush. “As they see it, what’s important is not blood, not what you were built-in into. It’s what you did on your own.” Ceremony son has had to at atomic pretend to bang out on his own, to coin a new identity. Prescott Bush larboard Ohio for Connecticut to be a broker and afterwards a senator; his son George H. W. Bush decamped to Texas and the oil business. Jeb followed clothing not abandoned by affective to a new accompaniment but by adopting a adopted ability aloft marrying his wife.
After he accelerating academy with a amount in Latin American studies, he and Columba confused to Venezuela, area he became a carnality admiral of the Texas Commerce Bank. The brace batten Spanish at home; their earlier son’s aboriginal words were agua, jugo, and aquí (“water,” “juice,” and “here”). In 1979, aback Jeb’s ancestor began creating a presidential-campaign network, Jeb and his ancestors confused to Miami to advice him out. Miami angry out to be absolute both for the ancestors and for Jeb’s ambitions. The Republican Party there was growing, acknowledgment to Cubans who admired Admiral Reagan and Carnality Admiral Bush’s anti-Castro policies. Jeb ran for administrator of Dade County’s Republican Party and won—the aboriginal political win for his bearing of Bushes.
Twenty years later, Jeb Bush became governor as Florida was changing, enabling him to add Axial Americans and Puerto Ricans to his account of capacity and allies. Over time, he became what Ana Navarro calls “pan-Hispanic,” acceptation he speaks Spanish calmly with an emphasis that’s not apparent as Cuban or Nicaraguan or Mexican, and has an compassionate of ceremony specific culture’s idiosyncrasies. Jorge L. Arrizurieta, a Miami agent and a longtime acquaintance of Jeb’s, calls him a gringo aplatanado, by which he agency “the best Latino American you will anytime meet.” Arrizurieta told me that Jeb “enjoys all these Cuban gestures and phrases with friends.” He’ll tap his bend aback someone’s actuality cheap—a action that signifies caminando con los codos, or “walking on your elbows,” which saves abrasion and breach on your shoes.
He is “completely bicultural,” says Raquel Rodriguez, a Miami advocate who met Jeb while volunteering on his dad’s aboriginal presidential campaign, in 1980, and afterwards served as his accepted counsel. The day I alleged Rodriguez, she’d been account a adventure in Politico annual about how abundant of an autist Jeb was. But this didn’t wholly accord with the Jeb she knew. “I mean, he doesn’t appetite to advance the conga band or anything. But on the added hand, little old ladies appear up to him and hug him and kiss him, and he’ll hug them back. It’s a actual Hispanic amore … He gets that we like to access your claimed space.”
In April of aftermost year, Jeb accurate conceivably his best memorable byword to date. In a emphasis about immigration, he alleged bridge the bound illegally “an act of love.” He corrective a accommodating and specific account of the bodies who appear to the United States illegally: “The dad who admired their children—was afraid that their accouchement didn’t accept aliment on the table. And they capital to accomplish abiding their ancestors was intact, and they beyond the bound because they had no added agency to assignment to be able to accommodate for their family. Yes, they bankrupt the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of charge to your family.”
Politico’s Web armpit afterwards counted those amid the words he will best regret, because for so abounding bourgeois primary voters, amore for bound crossers is a accord breaker. But there’s no agnosticism that the affect abaft the words flowed artlessly from Jeb’s own boyish act of love.
Columba’s father, Jose Maria Garnica Rodriguez, reportedly beyond the bound afterwards able affidavit on at atomic one break afore he got his aborigine conflicting agenda in 1960. Afterwards that he went aback and alternating amid Mexico and America, accidental to Columba’s complicated accord with him and with the United States.
In a 2004 adventures of Columba accounting in Spanish by Beatriz Parga, whose appellation translates to Columba Bush: The Cinderella of the White House, Parga writes that her ancestor acquired the best aching memories of her life. She says Columba’s ancestor already hit her mother with a belt buckle, breaking her fingers. Her parents distant in 1963, aback she was 10, and abounding columnist accounts accept accustomed the consequence that she never saw her ancestor afterwards that. But Parga’s book tells addition story, account a cruise Columba took to California in 1973 to appointment her father. One day he came home from assignment and apparent that she’d been smoker a cigarette, so he took off his belt and ran afterwards her. She bound herself in a bathroom, and aback he left, she snuck off to the bus base and went aback to Mexico. Her father’s additional wife has told reporters still addition adaptation that makes her husband, who died in 2013, attending better: she says Columba told her ancestor she was activity out to get the mail and disappeared, and they affected she was activity to see Jeb.
However she larboard things with her father, Columba has fabricated about as all-inclusive a adventure as any American immigrant anytime could, from a barely-middle-class babe aloft by a distant distinct mother in León, to abeyant aboriginal adult of an American presidential franchise. Yet today, Columba is no added a allotment of Jeb Bush’s Spanish-speaking political circles than she is of his English-speaking ones. She did not advance a abstracted activity in Miami’s association pages, or become a acclaimed hostess on the Cuban scene. In fact, as Jeb was calmly activity native, her own cultural alteration to Bushland was awkward and bumpy. She became an American citizen, in 1979, aloof so she could vote for her father-in-law for president. “It was a difficult accommodation to make,” she afterwards told a bounded paper.
In 1994, Jeb ran for governor adjoin Lawton Chiles and lost. He campaigned six canicule a week, morning and night, abandoned slowing bottomward aback he was “dog sick,” he said. His wife, meanwhile, was home and afflicted with adopting boyish children. One of them had a biologic problem—only years afterwards did they about accept that it was their daughter, Noelle. George P., afresh a Rice University student, was bent by badge that year breaking into an ex-girlfriend’s abode at 4 a.m. to see her; aback her ancestor asked him to leave, he collection his Ford Explorer over her family’s advanced lawn. The Schweizer adventures letters that during that period, several ancestors associates overheard Columba say to Jeb, “You’ve bankrupt my life.”
It’s adamantine to apperceive how the dematerialization of Columba’s ancestor from her activity has shaped her accord with Jeb; conceivably it circuitous her acrimony and breach during this time. Afterwards the campaign, Jeb alleged the acquaintance the best “humbling” of his activity and accepted that it had conflicting him from his family. Aloft Episcopalian, he adapted to Catholicism, partly as a action of adaptation with his wife.
In 1998, Jeb ran for governor afresh and won. The ancestors relocated to Tallahassee, and as aboriginal lady, Columba afflicted the attending of the governor’s mansion. She organized exhibits of the works of Salvador Dalí, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo, and of her admired bounded artists. This did not consistently go over able-bodied in a burghal abundant added culturally removed from Miami than the 500 afar amid them would suggest. “She was accomplishing Latino, not southern belle,” Jim Towey recalled. “And it did cockle some feathers.” Columba took ambush in the Kool Beanz Café, the attenuate restaurant in boondocks aback afresh with an adventuresome menu, and took walks abandoned about a Tallahassee park. Eventually, she and Jeb agreed that she’d absorb added of her time in Miami.
In 1999, anon afterwards Jeb won the gubernatorial election, she faced accessible scrutiny. Returning to the U.S. from a cruise to Paris, Columba told community admiral that she’d spent $500 on across purchases. She was searched, however, and admiral begin receipts for $19,000 in clothes and jewelry. A Bush agent at the time said she did not appetite her bedmate to apperceive how abundant she had spent. “The embarrassment I acquainted fabricated me abashed to face my ancestors and friends,” Columba said at a alms accident afterwards that year. “It was the affliction activity I’ve anytime had in my life.” She additionally said, “I did not ask to accompany a acclaimed family. I artlessly capital to accessory the man I loved.”
Noelle connected to attempt with addiction during this time. In 2002, at the end of her father’s aboriginal appellation as governor, she approved to use a affected decree to buy the anti-anxiety biologic Xanax, and was ordered to appear a drug-abuse analysis center. Eight months later, while at the center, she was begin with a baby allotment of able cocaine in her shoe and bedevilled to 10 canicule in jail. A anchorman asked Columba whether Noelle’s problems were accompanying to actuality allotment of a political family. “Absolutely,” she answered, afore endlessly herself. In her advocacy, Columba has formed with organizations that highlight the “heartache and destruction” acquired by boyish biologic addiction. But she keeps her own heartaches private.
In the countdown to Jeb’s -to-be presidential campaign, Columba access aback into the account in absolutely the way she had dreaded. In February, The Washington Cavalcade ran a adventure about added adornment purchases. The cardboard appear that in 2000, beneath than a year afterwards the community fiasco, she’d taken out a accommodation to buy $42,311.70 account of adornment in a distinct day, and that she had spent at atomic $90,000 at a distinct South Florida alternation store, Mayors Jewelers. This time Columba did not apologize or complete contemplative about her fate, and Jeb said nothing. Kristy Campbell, Jeb’s spokeswoman, abandoned accepted that yes, Columba fabricated adornment purchases “from time to time,” and larboard it to the bourgeois columnist to alarm bent on The Cavalcade for highlighting a clandestine citizen’s altogether acknowledged spending habits. The cardboard acclimated the byword big-ticket tastes, which absolutely had Democratic strategists cerebration about Ann Romney’s horse.
What do the adornment purchases say about the Bushes’ marriage? The Cavalcade wrote, “There is no agnosticism that Jeb and Columba Bush could awning their bills.” But his banking account for 2000 shows $2.3 actor in assets and an assets of $202,616, which suggests that a $40,000 acquirement was not negligible. It seems abnormally notable accustomed Jeb’s pride in his frugality, which is, famously, a ancestors trait—Barbara Bush fabricated it bright that the chaplet she wore as aboriginal adult were fake. Also, adornment is loaded with accord significance. Conceivably the Bushes, like abounding couples, were activity through a bad stretch. Or conceivably Columba, admitting not actuality abundant of a association wife, aloof has a adamantine time afraid sparkle. (Old profiles of her acknowledgment aerial heels and Chanel.)
Friends say that Columba’s better affair today is befitting Noelle abiding and out of the accessible eye. Now 38, Noelle lives in Orlando, area she works at a software firm. By all accounts, she is accept but fragile. “Everyone’s blessed with her progress,” says Cardenas, the ancestors acquaintance and old political ally. “Noelle is arch a accustomed life.”
When Jeb Bush was exploring whether to run for admiral in 2016, he said that one of his two above considerations was whether it was “right for my family.” The Miami Herald had appear as far aback as 2011 that Columba was on lath with a approaching presidential run, and accustomed who Jeb is, it couldn’t accept been the aboriginal time she’d advised the possibility. In October of aftermost year, Jeb told the Associated Columnist that his wife was “supportive” of the idea. Still, throughout the fall, the faculty that she was captivation on to a veto lingered. Then, in February, The New York Times appear that over Thanksgiving, which the ancestors acclaimed in Mexico, “Mrs. Bush gave her approval—though not afore acceptable her husband’s affiance to absorb some time every ceremony with her and their accouchement and grandchildren.”
The botheration with this abbreviated adaptation of the adventure is that it makes Columba complete like a lobbyist, or like Jeb—quick, decisive, a adamantine dealer. Accompany say the action abundant added organically, and poignantly. Afterwards the brace larboard the governor’s abode in 2007, they lived a almost accustomed activity for the aboriginal time in abounding years, with no security, no accessible schedule. A few years into that period, Jeb began to soften. Previously aback accompany saw Jeb socially, there was “a time limit, and aback it was done, it was over,” Towey told me. “He’d get his bold face on and get aback to work.” But in the accomplished few years he would linger. Towey recalled a altogether banquet this year that lasted two hours, area Jeb was blessed to accept his grandkids ample over his lap, allowance him draft out the candles. Towey got the faculty that the brace had developed afterpiece and that Columba had had the amplitude to apprehend “that he wasn’t aloof a political junkie.” Ironically, that’s what fabricated her added adequate with the abstraction of a presidential run. “It’s not like she was adage ‘Ooh, ooh, run,’ but she loves him, and she could see, aloof as he would never do it at her expense, she would never say no at his expense.”
Early this year, Columba had cafeteria at the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, area Jeb brand to golf in the aboriginal mornings, with Bart Hudson, the admiral of the Florida House, the abandoned accompaniment admiral in Washington, D.C. Hudson had formed with her aback she was the state’s aboriginal lady, acclimation art exhibitions, and they accept remained friends. Hudson affably asked afterwards her husband, as he consistently does, and she said article unusual. Jeb, she said, was “an artisan at what he does,” Hudson told me. “That’s the accomplished acclaim she can accord someone,” he said. “It agency that she appreciates the base of what he does.”
Hudson didn’t say whether Columba talked about what a attack ability beggarly for her—whether she was aching the accident of their abrupt spell as clandestine citizens, was animating herself, or had begin a way to attending advanced to the experience. In 2006, against the end of Jeb’s administration as governor, while alteration a cavalcade about clearing that his appointment planned to abide to The New York Times, Jeb directed his agents not to acknowledgment his wife, alike admitting she is what best connects him to the issue. By 2013, aback his book Clearing Wars was published, his attitude had changed. He mentions in the beginning the day on the axial capital in León aback he met the “beautiful woman with the admirable name of Columba Garnica de Gallo.” The adventure is abounding of campaign-ready clichés—“embrace American values”; “most advantageous adventures of my life”—and it pivots bound to his position on clearing policy, but still, that aboriginal acknowledgment may advance that Columba’s attrition to actuality packaged for a civic admirers has broiled a little.
I got the faculty from his agents that Jeb is afraid about how Columba will be portrayed in the press. In a accord with a anchorman in 1999, he wrote, apropos Columba and Noelle, “When they are happy, I am as well,” and I’m abiding that’s still true. In February, afterwards the aboriginal civic account belief in this acclamation division appeared about her and it became bright that the columnist would not leave her alone, Jeb appear an old photo from their wedding—him with billowing beard and a mustache attractive like one of the characters Will Ferrell acclimated to comedy on Saturday Night Live; Columba, 14 inches shorter, aggravating to attending up and at the aforementioned time accumulate the ablaze out of her eyes. Apparently Jeb’s brother Marvin was the bells columnist and accidentally acclimated rerolled blur from a Frank Zappa concert. This picture, taken by Barbara Bush, is the abandoned one from the bells that came out and survived.
Jeb uploaded the photo to Facebook on their 41st bells anniversary. Goofy ’70s facial hair, awkward pose, addle-brain siblings, no retouching—they attending aloof like the blow of us! And yet it’s adamantine not to apprehension that Columba, who charge accept been blessed that day, is not absolutely smiling, but abyssal amid the blinding ablaze and the boring of her mother-in-law.
Perhaps, if Jeb becomes president, Columba will get abroad with a few accomplished accessible speeches and some behind-the-scenes alms work. (She did accord a nominating emphasis in Spanish in 1988 for her father-in-law at the assemblage in New Orleans.) Conceivably she will get abroad with absolution her sons do the aggregate of the talking for the family. Maybe the best absorbing affair she could do is actualize a new model, whereby the aboriginal adult does not accept to accord up actuality a clandestine aborigine alone because her bedmate is adopted president.
Not likely, though. In March, Laura Bush, George W.’s wife, assured voters that Columba will “be great,” cogent CNN that she, too, was shy aback her bedmate entered civic politics, but got over it. That was partly acknowledgment to a anxiously accommodating media action to advice accomplish Laura comfortable, absolution her “practice” aboriginal with bounded book and TV reporters. By the time 9/11 happened, she was accessible for the civic and all-embracing media. “She became the comforter in chief,” recalls Noelia Rodriguez, who was her columnist secretary at the time. “We aloof knew it would be actual difficult to abide private, because who lives in a clandestine apple anymore? Anybody consistently knows what you’re doing.”
Any appropriate attack would amalgamation Columba’s immigrant adventure as an American triumph, a rags-to-riches bogie account like the adaptation in Parga’s book. But in my experience, immigrant journeys—even the acknowledged ones—are never that straightforward. Like best immigrants, Columba is pulled amid ancestors in León who affirmation she forgot them aback she acclimated and ancestors in America who appetite to absorb her whole.
In 1988, George H. W. Bush wrote his autobiography, Man of Integrity, with Doug Wead, and the two discussed possibly dedicating it to his earlier grandson, George P. Bush. Although the boy was all of 11, it was already bright to his grandfathering that this son of Jeb and Columba’s would backpack the absolutism into the abutting generation. He ultimately committed the book to his wife, but he included a letter to George P. from “Gamby,” in which he imagines little “P” 50 years bottomward the road, out on a bedrock attractive into the ocean. George P. is a Bush through and through; his own adolescent son—Columba and Jeb’s grandson—is called Prescott, afterwards the ancestors patriarch. Columba is a apparition in that lineage.
“I anticipate in life, best of the things are not beneath our control. My activity has been like that,” she told The Miami Herald in 1999. “I try to adore whatever comes.”