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National Urban League: Jeb Bush


Jeb Bush refused the engage in cross-fire with Hillary Clinton when he took the stage Friday as the fifth and final 2016 presidential candidate to address the National Urban League in Fort Lauderdale. Clinton had alluded to Bush in her earlier remarks, but Bush stuck to his script -- which included praising each of the contenders who preceded him by name for showing up. (His campaign did respond to Clinton on his behalf.)

Bush was interrupted several times by mild applause, and a few people stood up at the end, but the only candidates to receive full ovations were Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

DIDN'T GET THE 'JEB!'-NOT-BUSH MEMO: National Urban League President Marc Morial introduced Bush as someone "from a family that is no stranger," who is "looking to win the trifecta."

HE'S GOT JOKES: "I'm pleased to see the other candidates here as well –- Secretary Clinton, Governor O'Malley, Senator Sanders and a good man who's bringing a lot of wisdom to the Republican side, Dr. Ben Carson," Bush said. "By the way, I am very glad he will likely make it into the top 10 for next week's debate. Before that thing's over we might just need a doctor. Just sayin'."

LEARNED HIS LESSON: Bush didn't mention his infamous 1994 remark when he was asked at a debate for governor what he would do for African Americans. "Probably nothing," he said at the time. But he nevertheless alluded to the moment on Friday, noting his loss in that race.

"I went through a period of what some might call 'self-reflection' but I referred to it as 'listening and learning," Bush said. "I converted to my wife's Catholic faith. I went to family courthouses where there were cases of children abused or neglected. And parents trying but unable to meet their obligations because of barriers -– language, skills, or otherwise -– that held them back."

HAT TIP: Bush praised the Democrat sitting in the White House, an unusual move for a GOP presidential candidate that earned him applause: "When President Obama says that 'for too long we've been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present,' he is speaking the truth."

APPLAUSE LINE: "We should not be wasting times agonizing over the easy calls," Bush said. For example? "Fourteen years ago, when the question was whether to keep the Confederate flag on the grounds of the Florida State Capitol, I said no, and put it in a museum where it belongs."

'RESTORATIVE' JUSTICE: "In this country, we shouldn't be writing people off, denying them a second chance at a life of meaning," Bush said. He didn't bring up support for mandatory minimum sentences known in Florida as 10-20-Life.