February 23, 2016

An appreciation: Jeb Bush seemed most comfortable in his second language

BMM13 Bush News rk

@PatriciaMazzei

On what turned out to be the last full day of Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, a man with a distinctively English accent stood to ask him a question.

“Can you vote?” Bush interrupted with amusement.

“I don’t think so,” the man responded. “I’ve had the privilege of reporting for the Times of London — ”

“Oh, you’re a reporter, too!” Bush cut in again. (The man was a columnist.)

And then, there in Greenville, South Carolina, Bush said something that left no doubt he was still Miami Jeb: “This is going from Guatemala to Guate-peor!”

I laughed, but few others did. Besides Bush’s wife and son, a Colombian-born voter, and another bilingual reporter present, no one else seemed to get it. From bad to worse, Bush had said — using a Spanish-language colloquialism.

Moments like this made covering Bush’s candidacy particularly endearing for a Miami reporter. When I least expected it, Bush would show flashes of his inner Hispanic — even in places where his biculture couldn’t possibly fit, in a Republican primary year dominated by a front-runner who wants Mexicans to pay for a “beautiful” border wall.

On New Hampshire radio, Bush called his wife, Columba, “mi querida.” A staple of his stump speech involved telling voters, in perfectly accented Spanish, he met her in “León, Guanajuato, Mexico.” His two granddaughters, he bragged, will someday check off “not applicable” as their ethnicity in Census forms — because they’re “Texan-Mexican-Canadian-Iraqi-Americans.”

I looked for that Bush because that’s when he appeared most energized and passionate and raw. “Claro que sí,” he said about going to a same-sex wedding. “Barbaridades,” he said of Donald Trump’s insults.

More here.

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, El Nuevo Herald

With Jeb Bush out, former Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon backs Marco Rubio

via @learyreports

Former House Speaker Dean Cannon is endorsing Marco Rubio.

"The time is now for the Republican Party and fellow conservatives to come together behind a candidate who can lead us to victory in November," Cannon tells the Tampa Bay Times. "We have seen how the country has suffered under the Obama administration, and now we need to spread the word for how we can prosper with a leader like Marco Rubio in the White House. The future of the GOP lies with Marco, and the path to defeat Hillary Clinton begins with him winning Florida and ultimately the nomination."

Cannon had backed Jeb Bush, as did most of the other recent speakers, and current speaker Steve Crisafulli. Rubio on Monday picked up numerous endorsements from mainstream Republicans across the country.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

February 21, 2016

The long unraveling of Jeb Bush's campaign

GOP 2016 Bush (15)

@PatriciaMazzei

For Jeb Bush’s loyalists, the first moment of palpable panic — and there would be more than they ever expected in the months to come — built over four days last May when their not-yet-presidential candidate struggled repeatedly to utter a one-word answer — No — to an utterly predictable question: Should the U.S. have invaded Iraq?

Bush bungled the response when he was asked the first time. His staff prepared him for the next one. He knew what he had to say. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Couldn’t throw his older brother, former President George W. Bush, under the bus.

W. telephoned Jeb and told him to get over it.

By then, Bush donors and friends had gotten a very public glimpse of what could derail the former Florida governor’s bid for the Republican nomination — and resoundingly end the Bush family era in the GOP.

He was rusty, nine years removed from office and 13 years removed from a campaign. He was unfamiliar with how modern political news works, where four days to fix a mistake comprise an unforgiving eternity. And he was ill-prepared to grapple with the one challenge he knew going in he’d be unable to change: his last name.

“We’ve had enough Bushes,” his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, had asserted in 2013.

Her words, which she later took back, proved to be prescient.

Jeb Bush’s White House ambitions came to a dramatic end Saturday in South Carolina, when a tearful Bush conceded his campaign was over.

Blame a candidate mismatched to his party’s political reality — and a campaign too slow to adapt to it.

More here.

Miami Republican members of Congress who had backed Jeb Bush prepare to endorse Marco Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami's current and former Cuban-American Republican members of Congress plan to endorse Marco Rubio on Monday, after having initially backed Jeb Bush.

A public, group announcement is in the works, a Rubio campaign source confirmed to the Miami Herald on Sunday, a day after Bush ended his candidacy in South Carolina.

Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, would all shift their support to the remaining Miami candidate in the GOP presidential race. It's a sign to other Bush backers to let go of any bad blood from the Bush-Rubio rivalry sooner rather than later.

Curbelo had hinted at the endorsement in a tweet Saturday night suggesting he would look for party unity in the wake of Bush's departure.

All four politicians had been careful not to bash Rubio during the campaign, saying they thought Bush was more experienced but Rubio too would make a good nominee. They would serve as prominent Rubio campaign surrogates leading up to the March 15 Florida primary, especially on Spanish-language media.

Reaction to the end of Jeb Bush's presidential bid

@PatriciaMazzei

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Jeb Bush's presidential ambitions ended tearfully Saturday in South Carolina, which prompted his rivals and supporters alike to praise him for how he carried out his campaign and brought it to a close when he no longer had a way forward. At least one of his longtime detractors was not so gracious.

Here's a compilation of what they had to say:

Presidential rival and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

I also a few moments ago got to see on television -- I have not had a chance to speak to him yet -- Governor Bush and his announcement. I have an incredible affection and admiration not just for Governor Bush but for his family and for their service to our country. 

Jeb Bush has many things to be proud of. He is an extraordinary husband. He's an extraordinary father. He was the greatest governor in the history of Florida.

And I believe, and I pray that his service to our country has not yet ended. And I thank Jeb Bush for everything he did for the state of Florida and for running a campaign based on ideas. And I pray for him and his family tonight as they move forward in other endeavors in their life. 

Presidential rival and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz

Governor Jeb Bush was an extraordinary governor of Florida. His record of job creation and education innovation left a lasting legacy for millions of Floridians. And he brought skill, optimism, and passion to this race.

"Governor Bush focused on policy and ideas, and he brought candor, dignity, and honor to the race. I congratulate him on a hard-fought campaign and wish him and his wonderful family all the best.

Right to Rise USA, the super PAC backing Bush

We could not be more proud of Jeb Bush, the campaign he ran, and the hopeful and optimistic message of conservative reform that he communicated throughout this primary. Our team is grateful to the more than 11,000 Jeb Bush supporters who helped us in our efforts.

We are ceasing our activities in support of Governor Bush's nomination.

Former President George W. Bush

Tonight I talked to my brother and congratulated him on his campaign for the Presidency. I told Jeb how proud I am of him and his staff for running a campaign that looked to the future, presented serious policy proposals, and elevated the tone of the race. Jeb's decision to suspend his campaign reflects his selfless character and patriotism. I was moved by Jeb's concession speech. Laura and I are proud of Jeb and Columba for the character and class they brought to this important campaign.

U.s. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli

Jeb Bush is an incredible leader in the Republican Party and served with tremendous distinction as Florida’s Governor for eight years. In this time of great unrest in our country, Jeb Bush's record of success offered great hope for America's future. I was proud to support Governor Bush in his campaign for President of the United States because of his record of cutting taxes, creating jobs, reforming education, supporting our Second Amendment rights, and commitment to protecting the sanctity of life. While I am deeply saddened by the suspension of his campaign, I commend Governor Bush for his courage to stand as a candidate to be the Republican nominee for President and his service to our country.

Andy Ford, former president of the Florida Education Association teachers union

 

February 20, 2016

A South Carolina reckoning for Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

Jeb

@PatriciaMazzei

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The reckoning for Miami’s two fierce presidential rivals came Saturday in South Carolina.

Jeb Bush crashed out of the Republican primary, finishing so far behind in the state that helped make his father and brother president that the former Florida governor could no longer carry on.

And Marco Rubio, by trailing winner Donald Trump and battling for second place with Ted Cruz, seized his role as the GOP’s establishment favorite.

“Tonight, here in South Carolina, the message is pretty clear: This country is now ready for a new generation of conservatives to guide us into the 21st century,” Rubio told a raucous Columbia audience. “The 21st century conservative movement is the son of a bartender and a maid from Cuba, who tonight stands one step closer to being the 45th president of the United States of America.”

Rubio’s convincing close, so neck-and-neck with Cruz, counted as a relative victory, even if the Florida senator — unlike Cruz and Trump — has yet to notch a single electoral win.

Rubio had hoped Bush or Ohio Gov. John Kasich would end their bids after the New Hampshire primary 10 days ago. Instead, it was Rubio who flailed there, finishing a disappointing fifth behind Trump, Cruz, Kasich and Bush.

That meant Rubio entered South Carolina again needing a poor Bush or Kasich showing, in order to solidify mainstream Republican support. He got both: Bush and Kasich were locked in a fight for fourth place — acceptable for Kasich, who hadn’t invested much in South Carolina, but devastating for Bush.

“I committed that I would campaign as I would serve, going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching and staying true to what I believe,” Bush told supporters as he acknowledged the inevitable. “For better part of a year I endeavored to do just exactly that. I put forth a vision for America that includes all, because our country deserves a president for everyone.”

More here.

Photo credit: Matt Rourke, Associated Press

February 19, 2016

Donald Trump's attack on Jeb Bush's spending

Donald Trump brought a souvenir from the New Hampshire primary with him to the GOP debate in South Carolina last weekend, and he appeared eager to dangle it over Jeb Bush’s head.

It’s nothing new to see the billionaire businessman tangling with the former Florida governor – but this piece of data he twice repeated was a novel talking point, seeking to illustrate the efficiency of his campaign compared to Bush’s.

"In New Hampshire, I spent $3 million. Jeb Bush spent $44 million. He came in five, and I came in No. 1," Trump said.

Trump first deployed a version of this line after Bush accused him of getting his foreign policy knowledge "from the shows," but it was garbled as the two went back and forth in a flared exchange. Later, Trump circled back to make the same point with better clarity during a question directed only to him, again trying to paint Bush as a failed candidate.

Even if the statistic fits with the storyline – that Bush’s well-heeled campaign and super PAC went all out in New Hampshire, and Trump doesn’t need to spend money to get attention – the gap seemed extraordinary.

PolitiFact New Hampshire knew straight away his recollection of the election results was a bit off, so we decided to investigate whether it could be true that Trump tallied more than three times as many votes as Bush, while spending less than one-tenth what the governor did.

See what Nick Reid of PolitiFact New Hampshire found.

February 18, 2016

Jeb Bush attacks Barack Obama over the debt

Compared to immigration and terrorism, the growth of the federal debt may not be quite as big a subject for Republicans running for president this year. But it never went away entirely.

In a Feb. 5, 2016, Medium post about his approach to Social Security, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reiterated a talking point that many Republicans have used before.

"Barack Obama will somehow manage to add more than $8 trillion to the national debt, which is more debt than the 43 presidents who held office before him compiled together," Bush wrote.

It’s been awhile since we last checked a claim of this sort, so we decided to take a closer look. Bush phrased his claim carefully, and it largely holds up by the numbers. It’s also important to note, though, that Obama isn’t the only one responsible for the growth of the federal debt.  

See what Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact found.