Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush became the 11th Republican presidential candidate today with a speech heavy on red meat and light on foreign policy.
Bush was introduced by his son, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, at the Florida rally, and his mom, 90-year-old Barbara Bush, was in the audience.
“The party now in the White House is planning a no-suspense primary for a no-change election to hold onto power, to slog on with the same agenda under another name. That’s our opponents’ call to action this time around. That’s all they’ve got left,” Jeb said. “And you and know that America deserves better.”
He appeared to riff on former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s assertion that the presidency isn’t a crown to be passed between families, stating, “The presidency should not be passed on from one liberal to the next.”
Bush said he’s aiming for 4 percent growth as president and 19 million new jobs, touting 4.4 percent growth in Florida and 1.3 million new jobs during his tenure along with tax cuts and eight balanced budgets.
“A self-serving attitude can take hold in any capital, just as it once did in Tallahassee. I was the governor who refused to accept that as the normal or right way of conducting the people’s business. I will not accept it as the standard in Washington either,” he said. “We don’t need another president who merely holds the top spot among the pampered elites of Washington.”
“Because I was a reforming governor, not just another member of the club. There’s no passing off responsibility when you’re a governor. No blending into the legislative crowd or filing an amendment and calling that success. As our whole nation has learned since 2008, executive experience is another term for preparation and there is no substitute for that.”
Bush mentioned Baltimore, “where so many young adults are walking around with no vision of a life beyond the life of the life they know,” in touting Florida’s improvements in low-income student achievement.
“We stopped processing kids along as if we didn’t care, because we do care. And you don’t show that by counting out anyone’s child. You give them all a chance,” he said, advocating school choice.
“These have been rough years for religious charities and their right of conscience and the leading Democratic candidate recently hinted of more trouble to come. Secretary Clinton insists that when the progressive agenda encounters religious beliefs to the contrary, those beliefs, quote, ‘have to be changed.’ That’s what she said. That’s what she said. And I guess we should at least thank her for the warning,” Bush continued. “The most galling example is the shabby treatment of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Christian charity that dared to voice objections of conscience to Obamacare. The next president needs to make it clear that great charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor need no federal instruction in doing the right thing.”
“It comes down to a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother. And I’m going with the Sisters,” he added on one of his biggest applause lines.
Bush called it “a mystery to me why, in these violent times, the president, a few months ago, thought it relevant at a prayer breakfast to bring up the Crusades.”
“Americans don’t need lectures on the Middle Ages when we’re dealing abroad with modern horrors committed by fanatics. From the beginning, our president and his foreign-policy team have been so eager to be the history-makers that they failed to be the peacemakers,” he said.
“…By the way, just so that our friends know, the next president of the United States will pass meaningful immigration reform so that that will be solved, not by executive order.”
He didn’t offer more details on that reform plan, but went into a family story — how he was “ahead of my time in cross-border outreach” when he met his Mexican wife, Columba.
“Across the plaza, I saw a girl. She spoke only a little English. My Spanish was OK, but really not that good. With some intensive study we got that barrier out of the way in a hurry,” he quipped. “…Whatever else I might or might not have going for me, I’ve got the quiet joy of a man who can say that the most wonderful friend he has in the whole world is his own wife.”
Bush called the campaign “nobody’s turn,” but “everybody’s test.”
“And it’s wide open, exactly as the contest for president should be,” he said. “The outcome is entirely up to you, the voters. It’s entirely up to me to earn the nomination of my party and then to take our case all across this great and diverse nation. As a candidate, I intend to let everyone hear my message, including the many who can express their love of country in a different language.”
With that, he offered some remarks in Spanish.
“I will campaign as I would serve. Going everywhere. Speaking to everyone. Keeping my word. Facing the issues without flinching. And staying true to what I believe,” Bush said. “I will take nothing and no one for granted. I will run with heart, and I will run to win.”