Posts Tagged 2016 presidential campaign
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday poked fun at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s declaration that he’s the front-runner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, as both heavyweights are set to collide in the Granite State for a second straight day today.
“I’m not a candidate. I don’t think, maybe, he is I don’t know. You can’t be a front-runner until you start running,” Bush said after touring Integra Biosciences yesterday.
Bush’s remarks were in response to Walker’s comments earlier this week to Breitbart News. He said President Obama’s recent criticism of Wisconsin’s so-called “right to work” law “suggests maybe we’re the front-runner if somebody is taking an active interest in what a state governor is doing, particularly in light of the fact that we’re not the only one.”
Bush’s first political visit to New Hampshire in 15 years drew dozens of local and national media. He proclaimed his visit to Integra as “the coolest tour I think I ever had,” but was more circumspect about his prospective White House campaign.
“I’m joyfully pursuing the possibility of this and I will decide at some point, and then I’ll go at it,” he said, ignoring the massive campaign fundraising that’s taking place on his behalf.
In an attempt to portray himself as more electable than his rivals, Bush reiterated his support for mainstreaming illegal immigrants, a stance that has drawn heat from hard-line conservatives in his party.
“The best plan, the most realistic plan, the grown-up plan, once you control the border … is to say, ‘Let these folks achieve, earn legal status,’ ” Bush said during a business roundtable at Integra. “If we just keep people in the shadows, we’re not going to solve our immigration problems.”
Bush also embraced the so-called Common Core State Standards Initiative, which dictates public school education and math requirements. He said the standards are needed and described a scenario where without them, students could receive a high school diploma, yet still fail entrance tests for community colleges.
“Who’s fooling who?” Bush asked. “Do we feel good about this? Are we that concerned about our self-esteem?”
He suggested his position on Common Core may be unpopular among some Republicans, but it’s also more mature, and hence more likely to attract mainstream voters.
“I think you need to be genuine,” said Bush. “You need to have a backbone. You need to be able to persuade people this is a national crisis. … Our country will not be as dynamic as we want it to be until we improve education in this country.”
Walker, meanwhile, began the day with breakfast at Blake’s in Manchester, then met with former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and his wife, TV reporter Gail Huff, at the Red Arrow Diner. He also planned confabs with former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, Liberty Republicans and business leaders at the Pease Development Authority.
Today, he is slated to meet just before noon with state party activists at Concord High School, the first public event of his New Hampshire trip.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush asked skeptical conservatives to consider him a “second choice” on Friday but refused to back down from policy positions that have led many right-leaning activists to view his potential presidential candidacy with suspicion.
“I’m a practicing, reform-minded conservative,” the 62-year-old former Florida governor told the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland near Washington.
Many attending the annual gathering of grassroots activists made clear they prefer a potential Bush rival, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, among others.
Bush was heckled and booed, but the antipathy was balanced out by enthusiastic supporters who showed up shortly before he spoke and clapped heartily and aggressively.
While some audience members walked out of the packed auditorium as he began talking, there was no mass walkout and he was well-received overall.
Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush, has emerged as the favorite of the Republican Party’s establishment wing. He has been on a fund-raising binge that has raised millions of dollars for a potential 2016 presidential campaign.
But the party’s conservative base has been alarmed at Bush’s support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and for an education policy known as Common Core.
Referring to skeptics in the audience, he said, “I’m marking them down as neutral and I want to be your second choice if I go beyond this.”
A Bush critic, conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham, reflected some of the right’s concern about Bush in an early morning talk at CPAC. She said she saw little difference between him and the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton.
“Why don’t we just call it quits, and Jeb and Hillary can run on the same ticket,” she said. “I’m designing the bumper sticker. It could be ‘Clush.’ What difference does it make?”
Facing a crowd angered by Democratic President Barack Obama’s executive order relaxing immigration policy, Bush stuck to his position that Americans should be more accepting of immigrants and be willing to provide legal status for those already here.
He said it would help expand the U.S. economic base, and help his party extend its reach.
“We will be able to get (the) Latinos and young people that you need to win,” he said.
On Common Core, Bush said the policy was one element of a broader education reform effort that included conservative priorities like charter schools, vouchers and an end to affirmative action.
Asked about gay marriage, Bush said he supported “traditional” marriage, meaning between a man and a woman, without the caveats expressed by others that it should be a matter for the states.
He said he opposed marijuana legalization but said it should be up to states to decide.