April 24, 2015

Jeb Bush's South Beach confab to draw more than 350 donors

@PatriciaMazzei

Jeb Bush will spend Sunday and Monday on South Beach mingling with more than 350 financial backers, who will get a chance to get to know each other -- and the presidential candidate-in-waiting and his team -- before a formal campaign begins.

The two-day donor conference at the posh new 1Hotel, where rooms can go for more than $700 a night, will include briefings with top Bush advisers Sally Bradshaw, David Kochel and Mike Murphy, who head his political action committee, Right to Rise.

Also on the program are panel discussions, including on the PAC's efforts to reach communities outside of the Republican Party's usual comfort zone. In addition to visiting early GOP primary states, Bush , the bilingual former Florida governor, has traveled to less-visited liberal-leaning or purple states, such as Colorado, Massachusetts, New York and, next week, Puerto Rico.

On Sunday, Bush will have lunch with the winner of a contest that, according to the PAC, drew 12,331 entries. Contestants had to enter their name to vie for an expenses-paid trip to the Beach (and "Lunch with Jeb"). 

The careful line Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush walk on immigration reform

@PatriciaMazzei

NASHUA, N.H. -- Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have turned explaining their similar positions on immigration reform into a political art form.

Secure the border, they grovel to conservatives worried about “amnesty.” Get a better grip on people come into the country legally with visas, in case they overstay them. Give legal priority to immigrants who can contribute to the economy. Then — and only then! — should the U.S. grant legal status to many of the nearly 11 million people inside the country without authorization.

“We need to control our border first of all,” Bush said last week at a political breakfast in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“The American people, they understand we have an issue that has to be confronted,” Rubio said at a Manchester house party a few hours later. “But they’re not willing to do it or even talk about it until you show them — not tell them, you better show them — that illegal immigration is under control.”

That’s what grass-roots Republican voters want to hear. But they remain skeptical of Rubio and Bush, at least in New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary next year after the Iowa caucuses. Neither state is known for its demographic diversity: The population of both states is more than 93 percent white in both states, according to the U.S. Census, and only 5 percent of residents are foreign-born.

Immigration presents a challenge for Bush, the former Florida governor who has yet to declare his 2016 presidential candidacy, and Rubio, the U.S. senator who’s already running. Both back granting legal status to the nearly 11 million people already in the country illegally.

More here.

April 22, 2015

Does the United States spend more per student than most countries?

While some conservative activists and presidential hopefuls have trashed Common Core, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush remains a supporter of the education standards.

Bush’s support for Common Core could put him at odds with primary challengers should he decide to enter the race: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, opposes Common Core, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential candidate, once showed tacit support but later called for repeal.

During an event on April 17 in New Hampshire, a Nashua resident asked Bush straight up: "Gov. Bush: where do you stand on Common Core?"

Bush said: "Thank you for bringing that up. If it wasn’t going to be brought up, I was going to bring it up myself."

Bush then made his case that Common Core is essentially a push for higher standards, to address concerns about student achievement in the United States.

"We have an 80 percent graduation rate in high school after spending more per student than any country in the world other than Liechtenstein I think, or Luxembourg and a couple other small countries," Bush said.

Bush drew applause when he said "we don’t need a federal government involved in this at all," and added that he supported proposed legislation to ban the feds from creating standards or curriculum. (PolitiFact has rated multiple claims from other politicians that Common Core is a "federal takeover" of education and found them misleading.)

Here we will fact-check Bush’s claim about the national graduation rate and how much we spend per student compared to other countries.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida to see what we found and see Bush's full Truth-O-Meter record.

April 21, 2015

AP: Jeb Bush prepares to give traditional campaign a makeover

From the Associated Press:

DES MOINES, IOWA -- The traditional presidential campaign may be getting a dramatic makeover in Jeb Bush's bid for the White House as he prepares to turn some of a campaign's central functions over to a separate political organization that can raise unlimited amounts of money.

The concept, in development for months as the former Florida governor has raised tens of millions of dollars for his Right to Rise super PAC, would endow that organization not just with advertising on Bush's behalf, but with many of the duties typically conducted by a campaign.

Should Bush move ahead as his team intends, it is possible that for the first time a super PAC created to support a single candidate would spend more than the candidate's campaign itself — at least through the primaries. Some of Bush's donors believe that to be more than likely.

Architects of the plan believe the super PAC's ability to raise unlimited amounts of money legally outweighs its primary disadvantage, that it cannot legally coordinate its actions with Bush or his would-be campaign staff.

More here

In radio interview, Jeb Bush praises NSA surveillance

@PatriciaMazzei

Asked by a Seattle radio host Tuesday to name the best thing President Obama's administration has done, likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush cited the government's controversial surveillance programs.

"The NSA being enhanced," he told host Michael Medved in a pre-recorded interview, "while protecting civil liberties."

Bush praised Obama for continuing National Security Agency programs begun under his brother, George W. Bush, that have drawn the ire of civil libertarians who object to the government's power to listen to conversations or otherwise gather data on law-abiding citizens.

"He's not abandoned them," Jeb Bush said.

Bush has advocated for the expanded surveillance programs in the past, calling the technology "hugely important" in a February speech and reiterating in March that Obama should defend and explain the intelligence gathering. Marco Rubio, the Florida Senator who unlike Bush has formally announced his presidential candidacy, has also stood by the programs, describing them as essential in a dangerous world.

A fellow GOP presidential hopeful, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, has made criticism of the programs a key campaign platform.

Bush is in the Pacific Northwest raising money for his still-not-campaign campaign.

Marco Rubio camp doesn't name names but notes tension with Jeb Bush

@PatriciaMazzei

At the end of Marco Rubio's first week as a 2016 presidential candidate, his campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, wrote up an email -- promptly leaked to reporters -- touting the launch and noting reports about early signs of strain with likely rival Jeb Bush.

"Our early success is not going unnoticed by other campaigns. The weekend, the Drudge Report highlighted an AP report that another campaign has 'Started quietly spreading negative information about Rubio's record,'" Sullivan wrote. Then he added, in bold: "We cannot take the bait and return fire. We must stay positive."

Of course, Rubio has gotten a lot of ink (and pixels) in part because he's a contrast to Bush, and because the relationship between the two men dates back more than a decade.

April 20, 2015

Jeb Bush's Liberty City Charter School eventually closed, but he still brings it up on campaign trail

@PatriciaMazzei

Jeb Bush draws on his life experience when speaking to voters -- including over the charter school he helped create that was later shut down.

When a woman in a historic, 19th-century clubhouse in Concord, New Hampshire, asked Bush late last week about schools that don't require students to pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag, Bush turned to an anecdote about the Liberty City Charter School.

Bush and his co-founders opened the school in 1996, setting the foundation for his campaign as the education governor. The Miami-Dade County school board closed the school in 2008.

Bush didn't mention the shutdown at the "Politics and Pie" town hall-style event Thursday. But he spoke about when the school first opened its doors.

"The Saturday before the Monday opening, I realized we didn't have a flag pole," Bush said. "You have to have a flag pole for this school! And so we put a flag pole up. I learned how to set cement. Thankfully, it didn't fall down on Monday morning, 'cause it could have easily done it. And on Monday morning, all 90 kids outside, when we raised the flag up, they all pledged allegiance to the flag.

"It was the most beautiful thing, probably, that I can remember ever happening," Bush said.

Poll: Hillary Clinton trails Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio in Florida

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami's two Republicans running and likely running for their party's 2016 presidential nomination hold an edge over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Florida, a new poll has found.

The survey, by Jacksonville-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, shows U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio leading Clinton 49-43 percent, and former Gov. Jeb Bush ahead of her 47-43 percent. The poll has an error margin of 4 percentage points.

"Clinton's early campaign struggles have made some Democratic leaders nervous and there is evidence to support that it has trickled down to rank and file party voters," pollster Brad Coker said in a statement. "Among registered Democrats, only 39% said they will definitely vote for her in the primary election, while 40% would give strong consideration to another Democratic candidate and 12% would definitely vote against Clinton in the primary."

Mason-Dixon interviewed 625 registered Florida voters from April 14-16, beginning the day after Rubio's presidential campaign kickoff. The pollsters also found Rubio received a substantial post-announcement bump, effectively tying Bush 31-30 percent, with 17 percent of Republicans still undecided among the crowded primary field.

Jeb Bush to visit Europe in June

@PatriciaMazzei

Jeb Bush plans to visit Germany, Poland and Estonia in early June as he continues his all-but-declared 2016 Republican presidential campaign.

Among other things, the former Florida governor plans to speak at an economic conference organized by Germany's ruling party, the Christian Democratic Union, a Bush aide said. His trip was first reported by Reuters.

In Poland and Estonia, Bush will meet with government and business representatives as well as civic and charity groups.

The Bush aide said he has taken 89 foreign trips since leaving the governor's mansion in 2006. He last visited Germany in 2011 and will be traveling to Poland and Estonia for the first time.

This post has been updated, confirming the earlier Reuters report.

April 19, 2015

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio emerge as 'frenemies' in New Hampshire

Rubio manchester

@PatriciaMazzei

NASHUA, N.H. -- That Jeb Bush’s surprise decision in December to explore a 2016 Republican presidential run would complicate the ambitions of his erstwhile Florida protégé Marco Rubio seemed a given.

That Rubio’s now-declared candidacy might also make things a little problematic on a personal level for Bush didn’t become clear until this weekend in New Hampshire.

Mentor and mentee missed each other as they both held meet-and-greet gatherings with voters in Manchester and spoke to GOP activists in Nashua. What they couldn’t avoid were questions at every stop from the news media probing their relationship.

More here.

Photo credit: Elise Amendola/Associated Press