"I'm going to win!" Bush announced at a recent rally.
But hold your horses! At a recent gathering of Michigan Republicans at posh Mackinac Island, it was clear the moderate governor still lacks one thing: the support of his party's right wing.
"Governor Bush can't ignore conservatives. This is a profoundly conservative party," said presidential candidate Gary Bauer.
While the big money folks have all but anointed George W. Bush as the right man to lead the party, there is grumbling among conservatives that he is not "right" enough.
His challengers dropped by to show they had the right stuff.
"I am pro-life and I believe in the life amendment," said candidate Steve Forbes.
The competition warns that without a strong right wing, Bush's campaign can't fly.
"We will not win the battle for our liberty until we have won the battle to restore our moral conscience and integrity of this nation," said candidate Alan Keyes.
That might sound like sour grapes, except that down in Texas, party conservatives who know the governor say they've seen him turn from his conservative base to win moderate votes.
"We are still waiting to hear strong conservative statements. Please reach out to us. Don't take us for granted," said Cathie Adams, president of the conservative Texas Eagle Forum.
Such dissatisfaction is prompting defections. Pat Buchanan is poised to jump to the Reform Party. But after two terms out of the White House, even some staunch conservatives like Ralph Reed, formerly director of the Christian Coalition, say it's not about who is farthest right, but who can win. And Bush looks like a winner.
"He is the most electable and compelling conservative in the United States in a generation," said Reed.
But first he must avoid the fate of previous moderates like his father and Bob Dole -- both were weakened at election time by attacks from their right, and both lost.