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Jeb Bush: 'The fact that I'm bilingual, bicultural can't hurt' in likely presidential run

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush in a conference call this morning told allies from his time as governor that “my life is totally focused on this” as he explores a run for president, and announced the Tuesday release of the first chapter of a book he is writing based on emails from his eight years in office.

“We’re making pretty good progress,” Bush said, speaking to alumni on the eve of his return to Tallahassee for an education summit and fundraiser. He said he would release tomorrow a website containing his emails from his time as governor, messages that will provide the basis for a book he is writing. The first chapter of the book will be released as well, with the rest arriving later this year. While the emails have already been made public by news organizations and the Democratic oppo-research group American Bridge, they provide Bush with an opportunity to frame his executive experience as one rooted in conservative principles.

“An interesting feature of all this is how little people about what we accomplished together during my eight years as governor. Many of you played such a critical role in helping transform the state in many ways. I’m really proud of the conservative record we had in cutting taxes. Even, for the nerdy guys and gals on the phone, even achieving a triple-A bond rating. It still warms my heart. Creating 1.4 million net new jobs by building a better business climate. Reforming the things that were broken, particularly our schools. All of that story we can begin to tell people and I’m really excited about it.”

During a Q&A, Bush addressed a lingering question of how he would translate his strong advocacy of education reform to a national level. He said he saw a limited federal role but would aim to make education “a national priority.” He added: "Leadership isn't always about a five-point plan. In the case of the federal government, it could be that we accelerate student learning by providing incentives for bolder reforms at the state level rather than imposing some top-down driven solution that won't work. But I'm excited about a political message that is more aspirational, that focuses on the kids that are being left behind that it may create whole new constituencies for the conservative cause."

On foreign policy, he sharply criticized President Barack Obama, asserting the Commander-in-Chief “is the first president in modern times that I think honestly believes that American power in the world is a bad thing rather than a good thing. He’s pulled back from leadership. The United States is not leading as we once did and the void is being filled by these grotesque asymmetric threats of Islamic terror."

He was reminded of his nickname "Veto Corleone" for slashing the Florida budget and Bush said the same could apply to Washington.“There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit as it relates to just the ineptitude of government in Washington," Bush said, responding to a question from Reginald "Reg" Brown, his former deputy general counsel, who said people looking through the emails would come across the nickname.

"Its size is corrupting and it’s constraining. It doesn’t help people rising up, which is really the big challenge today in our country. The poor are stuck in poverty and the middle is getting squeezed. The size and scope of our government hasn’t helped them a bit. In fact, it’s impeding their ability to be successful."If I go beyond the consideration of thinking about this to a more active role, part of the idea is to lay out an agenda of fiscal restraint and reprioritizing toward the things we really want the federal government to do. I would say the first thing is to protect our shores, protect our homeland. Many other things could be reformed or pushed back to the states, which I think is another exciting element of a 21st Century campaign."

Frank Jimenez, another attorney who worked for Bush, said given Bush’s family and ability to speak fluent Spanish, he is “uniquely placed to reach out to Hispanics,” then asked, “What are some of the best ways to bring the entire party along in doing that?”

Replied Bush: “My personal belief is that Republicans can win if we’re more hopeful and aspirational, which is why we’ve used the terminology Right to Rise. We’ve lost some sense that it’s possible that the future can be brighter for people. This is not just focused on Hispanics but in general people do want to rise up. And as conservatives if we offer them a compelling alternative to the failed policies of the left, we’re going to do a lot better. If we campaign amongst people that traditional haven’t voted Republican, we’ll do a lot better. If we show respect for people, they’ll listen to us. .. We have these emerging demographic groups that because our message was maybe too harsh or harsher voices were the ones that seemed to dominate, we’ve lost a little ground. But we can recover. The fact that I’m bilingual, bicultural can’t hurt.”