March 07, 2015

In Iowa, Jeb Bush tackles ethanol subsidies and immigration reform -- and plugs Publix

via @lesleyclark

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appeared in Iowa for the first time in more than two years Saturday and declined to commit to popular subsidies to corn farmers, saying the fuel standard legislation that his brother signed into law in 2007 “has worked for sure,” but that the markets should determine the outcome.

“I would suggest to you ultimately, whether it is ethanol or any other alternative fuel, renewable or otherwise, the markets ultimately are going to have to decide,” Bush said at the Iowa Ag Summit. He has said that the Republican nominee should be prepared to “lose the primary to win the general” –- a caution against treading too far to the right in the primaries.

A parade of potential 2016 Republican candidates found common ground on opposing increased trade with Cuba, a move championed by agricultural interests in several farm states.

“We should ultimately trade with Cuba when Cuba is free,” Bush said. Reminded that the U.S. trades with China, Bush said China offers the U.S. “huge economic opportunities” while Cuba, an island of 11 million people “is impoverished, and it’s a dictatorship.”

Bush said he opposes efforts to label genetically-engineered foods -- a proposal that has support from activists but faces opposition from biotech companies and the manufacturers of packaged foods. But he he backs labeling for the country of origin, saying he’ll pick up some “Iowa beef” at his local Publix supermarket in Coral Gables on Sunday, along with avocados for “really good guacamole.”

The candidates split on immigration, with Bush defending his immigration stance that some conservatives view warily, saying that the U.S. needs the workers.

“If we want to be young and dynamic and growing again, I think we need to fix this broken system,” Bush said, calling for a path to legal status for immigrants who are in the U.S. without the proper documentation.

“No one I know has a plan to deal with illegal immigration, to say they’re going to be rounded up taken away,” Bush said, calling for illegal immigrants to earn legal status “over the long haul” after paying fines and learning English.

“This is the only serious, thoughtful way to deal with this,” Bush said.

March 06, 2015

Skeptical Iowa Republicans: Jeb Bush wants you to know he's conservative


Jeb Bush will be in Iowa this weekend for the first time in three years, speaking to Republican voters considered among the most skeptical toward the former Florida governor's likely presidential bid.

So Bush's political action committee, Right to Rise, put out a web video Friday titled "Conservative," featuring Bush speaking last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference about his Florida record.

Set to a grand musical score, the video includes none of the jeers from some in the audience who did not consider Bush to be conservative enough.


March 05, 2015

Politico: When Jeb Bush took on Everglades restoration

From Politico Magazine's Michael Grunwald, who wrote a book on the Everglades:

Jeb Bush had an obvious reason to be in Washington on December 11, 2000. He was the Florida governor, and the Supreme Court was hearing a historic Florida case. It happened to be called Bush v. Gore, and it would determine whether his older brother, George, would win his state’s electoral votes and become the next president.

But that’s not why Jeb was in Washington. As the ultimate partisan battle played out at the court, Bush was attending a quiet bipartisan ceremony in the Oval Office, watching President Bill Clinton, the Democrat who had ousted Bush’s father from that office, sign a bill to save the dying Florida Everglades. The $8 billion plan to revive the so-called River of Grass was the most ambitious ecosystem restoration effort in history—and one of Bush’s key priorities. So while his brother fought Clinton’s vice president over Florida’s political swamp, Jeb stood beside Clinton to celebrate Florida’s literal swamp. After signing, the president handed Jeb the first ceremonial pen. “What a bizarre day,” recalls David Struhs, Jeb’s top environmental official at the time.

More here.

March 03, 2015

Hillary Clinton email controversy raises questions about Jeb Bush, Rick Scott

via @learyreports

News that Hillary Clinton used a private email account during her time as Secretary of State draws contrasts and similarities to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Rick Scott, both of whom have drawn criticism for using private email.

Bush, a leading Republican contender for president, quickly jumped on the news against an expected rival, whom critics have long cast as secretive.

“Transparency matters,” Bush wrote Monday night on Twitter. “Unclassified @HillaryClinton emails should be released. You can see mine, here.

Earlier this year Bush released several hundred thousand emails covering his eight years as governor, a massive archive that gave insight into his handling of sensitive issues such as the Terri Schiavo saga and into his assertive leadership style.

The records were already available but Bush, putting them in an easy-to-read format, touted his commitment to transparency.

But the public cannot see everything.

Bush, who used a private account, removed from the record those emails related to politics, fundraising and family matters.

“He’s being a bit disingenuous because he decided what we saw and didn’t see,” said Barbara A. Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, a group that is supported by news organizations, including the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.

More here.

Election records show Jeb Bush skipped '08 presidential race

via @adamsmithtimes

Miami-Dade elections records indicate that Jeb Bush did not cast a vote in the 2008 presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain, even though he campaigned for the Arizona senator. Bush's spokeswoman insisted to the New York Times, which first reported on the discrepency, that Bush and his wife voted absentee in the election.

Lord knows mistakes happen when it comes to South Florida elections, and Bush is not the first prominent politician to insist the elections office records wrongly list them as non-voters. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Davis had to explain days before the 2006 election why Hillsborough County listed him as not voting in the virtually tied 2000 presidential race in Florida.

Meanwhile, the Democratic opposition research firm American Research pulled the records that suggest it has not been all that rare for bush to not bother voting in elections. Since 1996, county elections records indicate he missed voting in six of the 39 elections he was eligible to vote in. In other words, it appears he did not vote 15 percent of the time.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush used private email too, but people knew about it


Jeb Bush used news about Hillary Clinton's private email account at the U.S. State Department to tout the release of his own emails from when he was Florida governor.

He tweeted late Monday:

Bush did post online a selection of more than 250,000 emails from his time in office to show how he responded to the public -- and followed-up with his staff -- as he moves toward a presidential bid. But they were not all his emails, which are public record in Florida.

And then there's this, as our colleague Mary Ellen Klas wrote about in January and Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times noted last night:

The former governor conducted all his communication on his private account and turned over the hand-selected batch to the state archives when he left office. Absent from the stash are emails the governor deemed not relevant to the public record: those relating to politics, fundraising and personal matters while he was governor. 

The difference with Clinton -- other than Bush was not in a Cabinet-level position dealing routinely with matters of national security -- is that reporters and constituents knew about Bush's private account and could -- and did -- easily request emails from there under Florida's expansive public-records law. Clinton worked exclusively from a private, and apparently unsecured, account, and her staff didn't turn over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department until two months ago, though she left her post in 2013.

March 02, 2015

In Vegas, Jeb Bush distances himself from family

From the Associated Press:

LAS VEGAS -- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush distanced himself from his family on Monday as he courted senior citizens in Nevada, the first stop in a national tour aimed at key states on the presidential primary calendar.

Taking questions in an early voting state for the first time this year, the leading Republican White House prospect declared that each of his family members is different and challenged a questioner who suggested otherwise. Bush is the son and brother of former presidents who were unpopular when they left office.

"Do you have brothers and sisters?" Bush asked his questioner at a gathering of roughly 300 senior citizens at a Las Vegas retirement community. "Are you exactly the same?"

The crowd applauded the answer.

Bush has not shied away from tough questions about his policies or family name as he ramps up for a formal 2016 presidential bid.

More here.

March 01, 2015

Jeb Bush, the non-candidate, rewrites campaign finance playbook

via @learyreports @adamsmithtimes

As Jeb Bush continues a torrid fundraising schedule across the country, he is pushing new boundaries of campaign finance law, exploiting his status as a noncandidate to avoid contribution limits and amass a cash pile already in the tens of millions.

The effort, which supporters call “shock and awe,” is designed to assert Bush’s dominance in the 2016 Republican presidential field, but it also represents a new chapter in the era of unlimited money in politics and raises numerous questions, beginning with the most basic:

How can Bush, who acts and sounds every inch the candidate for president, not be a candidate?

The former Florida governor says he is merely exploring the idea of possibly running for president. He drops disclaimer after disclaimer — If I decide . . .

That may seem laughable given Bush’s actions — including campaign-style speeches and visits to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, courting the wealthiest donors and best political talent in the country, and resigning from corporate boards that pose potential conflicts of interest — but it is part of a carefully planned strategy.

It also underscores campaign finance regulations awash in loopholes and lax enforcement in the fast-evolving world of Super PACs unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

More here.

February 28, 2015

Rand Paul wins CPAC straw poll, Jeb Bush 5th, Marco Rubio 7th

via @LightmanDavid

Rand Paul won the Conservative Action Political Conference straw poll Saturday, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker continued his surge to the top tier of potential Republican candidates with a strong second place showing.

Paul, a U. S. senator from Kentucky, won for the third straight year. But his 25.7 percent total was lower than his 31 percent showing last year. Walker won 21.4 percent.

Walker was a favorite of the audience here, along with Paul. Some 3,007 people voted in the survey, conducted during the final three days of CPAC, which ended Saturday.

The result is another boost for Walker, who vaulted into national prominence in January with a fiery speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, a gathering of Republican activists. He has since led Iowa Republican presidential surveys.

Paul, though, retains a sizeable following. His father, former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, won the straw poll in earlier years.

Finishing third and fourth were Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, 11.5 percent, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, 11.4 percent.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was often booed by the audience, was fifth at 8.3 percent.

No one else got 5 percent. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum got 4.3 percent, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, 3.7 percent, real estate developer Donald Trump, 3.5 percent, former business executive Carly Fiorina, 3 percent, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 2.8 percent, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 1.1 percent and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, 0.9 percent.

--DAVID LIGHTMAN, McClatchy Washington Bureau

Email shows how Jeb Bush organized CPAC supporters

via @learyreports

Setting aside Jeb Bush's solid performance on the CPAC stage yesterday, the headlines would have been quite different today had he been repeatedly booed or faced a mass walk out.

People booed and heckled, and some walked out. But hundreds of Bush supporters filled the spacious room and sent up waves of cheers and applause. The strategy began with a Feb. 19 email:


A group of JEB! '16 supporters are heading out to National Harbor to support Governor Bush during his speech at CPAC next Friday, 2/27.  We're working on having a location at CPAC for Governor Bush to visit with supporters after the speech.  If you have friends or co-workers who support the Governor, please encourage them to attend as well.  Let's show the nation that Governor Bush's proven conservatism and leadership is what America needs right now.

Please plan on being there by noon as we want to make sure every supporter is able to get a seat for the Governor's speech, which will be approximately 1:30pm."

The email was provided to the Tampa Bay Times by one of the organizers, who disputed the characteriztion in some reports that the troops amounted to Astroturfing. "Far from that, it was Jeb alumni who wanted to help the cause. I think the haters are mad because us being able to flood CPAC with 500 people illustrates the depth of the network and the passion that Jeb Bush invokes."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times