Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, despite being the front-runner of the media for a number of months, has found himself lagging behind this cycle’s more ‘unorthodox’ candidates. He continued to pitch himself as the moderate Republican candidate and by attempting to push out a message that could be seen as positive; because CNN are the literal definition of the ‘establishment media’ Bush was given a larger amount of airtime than his polling would suggest due to his surname.
Bush began his remarks by dodging a question about Donald Trump by saying that “the next president will have to fix a huge situation and there is not a place in the world where we are better off than six and a half years ago”; he eventually implied a response to the question and said that “the president has to understand American leadership in the world, and that he cannot just insult people and leaders around the world”.
He later asserted that he was not a puppet of the donors and said that he had a prudent record of conservative principles including “$19 billion of tax cuts over 8 years, shrank the state government workforce, led the nation in job growth in seven out of eight years and one of two states to receive an AAA bond rating”. However Bruce Bartlett, an official in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations said that Bush’s policies didn’t cause the Floridian economy to grow at the rate that it did under his leadership: “if there was a tax cut that could get the economy growing at 4%, any politician- whether it’s Jeb or Bernie Sanders- would be pushing it… but there’s not one, period, full stop”. It is also worth pointing out that much of the job growth in Florida whilst Bush was the governor was artificial and created by a housing bubble, which was his policies didn’t have any effect on. PolitiFact Florida have also said that $19 billion of tax cuts is actually false as only $13 billion were done by Jeb Bush, and the other $6 billion were passed by President George W. Bush through Congress in 2001. Following his back and forth with Donald Trump over whether or not Trump had donated to Bush’s election campaign in order to get casino gambling legalised in Florida, Bush launched into a list of people that Trump apparently supported in the past in order to turn the GOP base against him: “[Trump] supports Pelosi, he supports Schumer, he supports Clinton”.
On foreign policy Bush said that President Obama shouldn’t cancel the state dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping before swiftly moving onto Iran and saying that his strategy would be to deter Iran would be to re-establish the US’ commitment to Israel by giving them weapons. The conversation came back to foreign policy later on in the evening and Bush declared himself his own man. He specifically said that he would reverse the sequester, rebuild the military, rebuild the counter-intelligence services, and that Obama and Clinton has worsened America’s position in the world. Bush summed up his strategy by reiterating Ronald Reagan’s Orwellian statement of ‘peace through strength’.
In regards to Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who has been systematically denying both heterosexual and homosexual marriage licenses, Bush said should be accommodations for people of faith and that religious freedom is a powerful part of the Bill of Rights. He said that she is sworn to uphold the law but also said that if she won’t issue licenses there should be there to do it. This is not a moderate position as is being portrayed as Kim Davis is a public official in a secular country bound by the US Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court; if she cannot do a key provision of her job because of her own religious beliefs she should resign, and if she refused to do so she should be fired, and if she refused to go she should be put in prison for disobeying the law.
On abortion Bush said that he was “the most pro-life governor on this stage” and that “life is a gift”; he also said that in Florida he funded crisis prevention centres, instituted parental notification of minors seeking an abortion, and defunded Planned Parenthood. He also made the point that 13,000 other organisations get funding who don’t do abortions and his suggestion to be ‘moderate’ was to give Planned Parenthood’s funding to them, specifically saying that he would reinstitute the ‘Reagan Rule’ which specifically went after Planned Parenthood’s funding in the late 1980s.
After a back and forth with Donald Trump on his derogatory comments about Jeb Bush’s wife, Bush said that Trump’s approach to undocumented immigrants would destroy families and tear communities apart. However the former Florida governor, after appearing sane for around 60 seconds, refused to really state his position other than saying that undocumented immigrants shouldn’t all deported, which seemed to imply that he supports a pathway to citizenship.
When speaking about the Supreme Court Bush said that he would only nominate Justices to the Court with “proven record of upholding the Constitution”, which implies that some on the Court currently don’t. His final contribution of substance was on the 2nd Amendment in which he said that he would encourage community involvement to prevent the mentally ill from getting their hands on weaponry. Bush also said that Obama and Clinton want to do federal gun laws, which he opposes, and would prefer a solution implemented by the states.
On reflection Bush’s performance, despite a significant airtime, was passable but not inspiring. His attempts to seem moderate would play well in a general election but the Republican base’s has made itself abundantly clear that they favour an outsider going to Washington DC giving it a shake; although Bush has never held office in Washington, it is hard to argue that the son of one president and the brother of another is anything other than an establishment figure. It for this reason that, at this point in time, I do not believe that Bush will be the GOP candidate in 2016.