Bush promises a presidential campaign 'with heart'

Campaign 2016
by Kent Covington
Posted 6/15/15, 09:00 pm

MIAMI—Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made his long-awaited presidential campaign announcement Monday. He told supporters America needs a president who is willing to shake things up, and he’s their man.  

“I will be that president because I was a reforming governor, not just another member of the club,” Bush said. “I know how to fix this because I’ve done it.”

The two-term governor stood center-stage in a packed arena at Miami-Dade College, a school that claims to have the largest enrollment of minority students—mostly Hispanic—of any college in the nation. The venue highlighted his promise to aggressively court minority voters. Bush, whose wife, Columba, is from Mexico, won 61 percent of the Hispanic vote in his successful 1998 gubernatorial campaign.

To his left and right were large banners, which simply read “Jeb!” (absent the famous Bush family name).

He promised to put more Americans to work, explaining his goal will be to grow the economy at a rate of 4 percent a year. He said creating jobs is nothing new to him: “We made Florida No. 1 in job creation and No. 1 in small-business creation.”

On education, he boasted a conservative agenda while making no mention of Common Core educational standards. Bush’s GOP opponents have battered him over his support for the program, which many conservatives feel gives the federal government too much power.

Bush sought to reassure Republican voters Monday, declaring that “every school should have high standards, and the federal government should have nothing to do with setting them.” He added, “every parent should have the right to send their children to a better school—public, private, or charter.”

The former governor said executive experience is a must for any prospective president, and he jabbed his Republican rivals from the legislative branch: “We are not going to clean up the mess in Washington by electing the people who either helped create it or have proven incapable of fixing it.”

But he saved his sharpest barbs for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton and her party, blaming Democrats for the lagging economy, bloated national debt, tax increases on the middle class, excess regulation, and military cuts.

He also restated his support for religious rights of conscience and hit Hillary Clinton for her left turn on religious liberty. “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, and I guess we should at least thank her for the warning,” Bush said.

Bush launched his campaign with a pledge to “take nothing and no one for granted,” adding, “I will run with heart. I will run to win.”

The latest national ABC/Washington Post poll of Republican voters places Bush in a virtual three-way tie with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for the GOP presidential nomination .