Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush became the 11th Republican announcing his candidacy. He made the announcement on June 15, 2015 at Miami-Dade College in Miami, Florida.
He opened his speech with a brief word of welcome and incorporated into the welcome a few words that signaled his approach to his campaign.
“You know, I always feel welcome at Miami-Dade College. This is a place that welcomes everyone with their hearts set on the future. A place where hope leads to achievement and striving leads to success. For all of us, it is just the place to be in the campaign that begins today.”
“Welcoming everyone with their hearts set on the future” portrays his desire for legal immigration reform. The words hope, achievement, striving, and success portray the American dream. He continued with emphasizing the importance of this election.
“We’re 17 months from the time for choosing. The stakes for America’s future are about as great as they come. Our prosperity and our security are in the balance. So is opportunity in this nation where every life matters and everyone has the right to rise.”
He again put an emphasis on inclusion with “every life matters and everyone has the right to rise.” This is also a possible hint of his stand on right to life.
From 2003 to 2005 Bush, as Governor of Florida, gained national attention when he exercised every legal means available in an effort to sustain the life of Terri Schiavo who was kept alive by a feeding tube. Her husband wanted to remove it and allow her to die. Her parents wanted the state to grant custody to them so that they could continue her care. Jeb Bush took a strong advocacy position to continue feeding her and allow her to live rather than to allow her to starve to death.
After his words of welcome, he launched directly into an attack on the current administration and the plans to perpetuate that agenda. He emphasized, “America deserves better.” In a machine gun fashion he rattled off the consequences of this administration.
“They’ve offered a progressive agenda that includes everything but progress. They are responsible for the slowest economic recovery ever; the biggest debt increases ever; a massive tax increase on the middle class; the relentless buildup of the regulatory state and the swift, mindless drawdown of a military that was generations in the making.”
After outlining the condition and the need, Jeb Bush made a proclamation along the same lines as the Biblical Joshua’s, “as for me and my house” proclamation.
“I, for one, am not eager to see what another four years would look like under that kind of leadership…. Our country is on a very bad course. And the question is what are we going to do about it? The question for me — the question for me is, what am I going to do about it? And I’ve decided I’m a candidate for President of the United States of America.”
He promised to take command of the future, to lift the sights, to make opportunity common again. He promised to get Washington back on the right side of free enterprise. His confidence in keeping those promises is based on what he did as Governor of Florida. He boldly claimed, “I know we can fix this because I’ve done it.”
Many announcement speeches are general in nature. Jeb Bush gave a specific goal about the economy. “There is not a reason in the world why we can’t grow at a rate of 4% a year and that will be my goal as President; 4% growth and the 19 million new jobs that comes with it.”
He listed accomplishments in Florida and related to how he would do the same as President.
“Growth is possible. It can be done. We made Florida number one in job creation and number one in small business creation; 1.3 million new jobs, 4.4% growth, higher family income, 8 balanced budgets and tax cuts eight year in a row that saved our people and businesses $19 billion dollars. All this, plus a bond upgrade to triple-A, compared to the sorry downgrade of America’s credit in these years. That was the commitment and that is the record that turned this state around. I also used my veto power to protect our taxpayers from needless spending and if I’m elected President I’ll show congress how that’s done.”
Jeb is likely going to have a ghost from his father’s past haunt him. I heard him say, “I’ll show congress how that’s done.” Immediately my mental tape replayed his father’s statement in his nomination acceptance speech nearly 3 decades ago. “Read my lips, no new taxes.” Jeb is not his father and he has a track record in Florida to back up his pledge. Nevertheless, he will not be able to avoid the vicarious association that some will attach.
On the subject of taxes he said that the tax code was “filled with small-time thinking and self-interested politics.” He called for simplification. He also addressed the bureaucracy of regulators and set another specific goal to achieve energy security within five years.
“What the IRS, the EPA and the entire bureaucracy have done with over-regulation we can undo by act of congress and order of the President. Federal regulation has gone far past the consent of the governed. It is time to start making rules for the rule-makers. When we get serious about limited government, we can pursue the great and worthy goals that America has gone too long without. We can build our future on solvency instead of borrowed money. We can honor our commitments on the strength of fiscal integrity. With North American resources and American ingenuity we can finally achieve energy security for this nation and with Presidential leadership we can make it happen within five years”.
Jeb Bush is perceived by many as just another establishment candidate. He set out to change that perception. Sounding like a populist outsider, he launched an attack on the lobbying business.
“We will also challenge the culture that has made lobbying the premier growth industry in our nation’s capital. Look, the rest of the country struggles under big government while comfortable complacent interest groups in Washington have been thriving on it. A self-serving attitude can take hold in any capitol 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. We don’t need another President who merely holds the top spot among the pampered elite in Washington. We need someone to challenge and disrupt the culture in Washington and I will be that President.”
In what had to be a reference to the Senators in the race, Bush also contrasted the responsibilities of governor with those of a legislator.
“There is no passing off responsibility when you are a governor. No blending into the legislative crowd or filing an amendment and calling it success. As our whole nation has learned since 2008, executive experience is another term for preparation and there is no substitute for that. We’re 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.”
The nation’s attention had been on Baltimore for several weeks when Bush made his announcement. He used that as a springboard to speak about education and school choice. He was emphatic that the federal government should have nothing to do with setting standards in schools.
“After we reformed education in Florida, low income student achievement improved here more than any other state. 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. Here is what I believe. When a school is just another dead end, every parent should have the right to send their child to a better school – public, private or charter. Every school should have high standards and the federal government should have nothing to do with setting them. Nationwide, if I’m President, we will take the power of choice away from the unions and bureaucrats and give it back to parents.”
Bush took the time to include an often overlooked segment of the population in his discussion of education. He went beyond the educational aspect and spoke of the value of children with developmental challenges.
“We made sure of something else in Florida. That children with developmental challenges got schooling and caring attention, just like every other girl and boy. We didn’t leave them last in line. We put them first in line because they’re not a problem. They’re a priority.”
Religious freedom has been under fire by the current administration. Many religious charities have taken a stand of conscience against policies of the Obama administration. Bush quoted Hillary Clinton. “Secretary Clinton insists when the progressive agenda encounters religious beliefs to the contrary, those beliefs, quote, ‘have to be changed.’. . . I guess we should at least thank her for the warning.”
He spoke of a specific charity called, “Little Sisters of the Poor” who received what he called “shabby treatment” because they dared to object to portions of Obamacare. He said that the Little Sisters did not need instruction from the federal government. “It comes down to a choice between the Little Sisters and big brother and I’m going with the sisters.”
Bush then turned to foreign policy and the failures of this administration in the face of worldwide violence.
“It’s still 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 peace-makers.”
Bush said that the legacy of Obama, Clinton, and Kerry was one of, “crises uncontained, violence unopposed, enemies unnamed, friends undefended and alliances unraveling.” He addressed the great risk of military inferiority and made another specific promise to rebuild the armed forces.
“This supposedly risk adverse administration is also running us straight in the direction of the greatest risk of all, military inferiority. It will go on automatically until a President steps in to rebuild our armed forces and take care of our troops and our veterans. And they have my word, I will do it.”
Bush promised to build dependable relationships with allies by being dependable. He specifically pointed out Israel and promised to stand with them. He turned to 90 miles south and talked about the people of Cuba. Saying that Obama needed to use better judgment in his relations with Cuba, he used a striking illustration saying, “We don’t need a glorified tourist to go to Havana in support of a failed Cuba. We need an American President to go to Havana in solidarity with a free Cuban people and I’m ready to be that President.”
Jeb Bush introduced some humor in the speech when speaking of his family. He referred to himself as, “… a guy who met his first President on the day he was born, and his second on the day he was brought home from the hospital. The person who handled both introductions is here today…. Please say hello to my Mom, Barbara Bush.”
Before going further with introductions, he was briefly interrupted by a group of protestors calling for amnesty. They wore yellow shirts, each bearing a large letter. Standing side by side, the message was, “”LEGAL STATUS IS NOT ENOUGH.” Jeb Bush supporters in the auditorium began to chant, “USA, USA, USA” to drown out the protestors.
Bush left his prepared text in response to the situation. “By the way, just so that our friends know, the next President of the United States will pass meaningful immigration reform so that will be solved, not by executive order.”
He told how he met his wife in Mexico referring to their meeting as “cross border outreach.” After telling about his children and grandchildren, he talked of the campaign and those running. He showed no air of superiority or entitlement.
“I know that there are a lot of good people running for president; quite a few, in fact. And not one of us deserves the job by right of resume, party, seniority, family or family narrative. It’s nobody’s turn. It’s everybody’s test. And it is wide open, exactly as the contest for President should be. The outcome is entirely up to you, the voters.”
He committed to carry a message of optimism to everyone who would hear. At this point in his speech he spoke in fluent Spanish addressing, “the many who can express their love of country in a different language.”
He closed by promising to campaign as he would serve, “Going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching, and staying true to what I believe. I will take nothing and no one for granted. I will run with heart, and I will run to win. It begins here and now, and I’m asking for your vote. Thank you and God bless you all. I love you.”
Jeb Bush’s 30 minute announcement speech was interrupted numerous times with standing ovations and chants of “Jeb, Jeb, Jeb” or “USA, USA, USA.” He had an audience of passionate supporters in Miami.
Jeb Bush is not his father. He is not his brother. His brother often said that Jeb was the smart one. He spoke with a strong sense of conviction and passion.
He is characterized by some as the establishment candidate and likened to the candidacies of John McCain and Mitt Romney. Anyone who saw his speech would pause to reconsider that characterization.
Bush is more likely to gain the support of the Republican establishment. His challenge will be to gain the support of the strong conservative constituencies. His announcement speech was a step in the direction of asking for the confidence and support of those groups.
Bush has challenges ahead of him which he must overcome to gain the nomination and win in the general election. There are some who are against him because they may not like the idea of a family dynasty. There are some who will not trust his promise to cut the bureaucracy and spending because “read my lips” of three decades ago still rings in their ears.
While he does have challenges to overcome, he has several things going for him. He comes across as a very sincere, very likable, very caring person. The average person (like the ones who do not read this blog or others like it) will see him and feel a connection.
He will make a huge dent in the Hispanic constituency. He speaks the heart language fluently and his wife is Hispanic. Those things matter. He has also been able thus far to present his views and stand on a position that might be unpopular in some circles.
Immigration is one of those and his pointing out positive aspects of Common Core is another one. In those respects, he does not come across as a typical politician who is holding his finger to the wind. He is a strong right to life advocate, perhaps even stronger than his father or brother.
With such a large field of candidates, the key to winning the nomination and the general election will be to create an atmosphere to pick up supporters of other candidates when their candidate drops out of the race.
Jeb Bush is one of those at the top of the pack. If he were in the top two out of four, that would be one thing. Being the top two or three out of sixteen or seventeen is quite another. The debates are critical for all the candidates. They are especially critical for him.
He must not only demonstrate that he can debate well, he must do it in such a way that he does not alienate supporters of other candidates. The reality is that at some point, the field will begin to shrink leaving behind a host of potential supporters. The candidate who can pick up those voters who are forced to look for plan B or plan C will be the one who wins the nomination.
The key in this election will be keeping the plan B or plan C as supporters and voters. The nominee must have the strong support of all conservatives from all walks of life. Anything less will hand the election to the Democrats.
Based on his announcement speech, Jeb Bush appears to understand that key challenge.
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