Jeb Bush Enters Presidential Race

By John Celock

Focusing on his gubernatorial experience and noting his family ties, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) Monday became the third member of his family to run for president.

Confirming an already burgeoning campaign, Bush used a rally in Miami to kickoff his presidential bid and lay out a vision that included a focus on education and building up the nation’s foreign policy. Bush enters a growing Republican presidential field as a frontrunner, but one that is contending with questions over whether the country is ready for a third President Bush.

“It’s nobody’s turn. It’s everybody’s test. It’s wide open,” Bush said of the GOP field and tackling his family lineage head on.

Bush cited his family during his speech, noting that both his brother and father have been president and introducing his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, to a cheering crowd. Bush, though, focused more on his own family, including how he met his wife, Columba, in a square in her native Mexico. Bush was introduced to the crowd by his son, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush (R), the fourth generation of the family to hold elective office.

Bush focused on his record from eight years in Tallahassee, noting the need for “executive experience” in the White House. He talked about growing the Florida economy and on education reform. Bush had made education policy a central part of his governorship and is known for his backing and involvement in drafting the Common Core standards, which have become controversial among Republican primary voters.

“Every school should have high standards and the federal government should not be setting them,” Bush said, also attacking teachers’ unions and education bureaucrats.

Bush’s stressing of “executive experience” was an attack on President Barack Obama, who came to the White House after four years in the U.S. Senate and service in the Illinois state Senate.

The son and brother of presidents, Bush set himself as a Washington outsider, taking several swipes at the capital, saying he wanted to reduce the influence of lobbyists and saying he would “disrupt” Washington.

“I was a reforming governor and not just another member the club,” he said.

Bush’s speech included several of the same lines as other Republicans, including attacking regulations pushed by the Obama Administration and foreign policy under Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.

Bush said that he wanted to strengthen foreign policy and the military and “stand with Israel,” similar views to other GOP hopefuls. Bush also took time to address Cuba policy, a key issue with the Florida electorate.

“We don’t need a glorified tourist to go to Havana in support of a failed Cuba,” Bush said of Obama’s Cuba policy. “We need an American president to go to Havana and stand in solidarity with a free Cuban people. I am prepared to be that president.”

Bush spoke following a series of speakers from Florida who talked about Bush’s record. Former Florida Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings (R), who served as Bush’s second-in-command for four years, praised Bush, as “idealistic” and said being his number two was “an adventure.”

Jennings said in her remarks that she presided over Bush’s state Senate confirmation hearings to be Florida commerce secretary in the 1980s and found him to the be the same person as he was then. She also noted her work with him as governor, both as lieutenant governor and as state Senate president during his first term.

“He never backs down from an issue, no matter how tough,” Jennings said.