Jeb Bush

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Jeb Bush
Governor of Florida Jeb Bush at Southern Republican Leadership Conference May 2015 by Michael Vadon 16.jpg
43rd Governor of Florida
In office
January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007
Lieutenant Frank Brogan (1999–2003)
Toni Jennings (2003–2007)
Preceded by Buddy MacKay
Succeeded by Charlie Crist
Florida Secretary of Commerce
In office
January 6, 1987 – September 9, 1988[1]
Governor Bob Martinez
Personal details
Born John Ellis Bush
(1953-02-11) February 11, 1953 (age 62)
Midland, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Columba Bush (m. 1974)
Relations See Bush family
Children George, Noelle, and John Jr.
Parents George H. W. Bush
Barbara Pierce Bush
Residence Coral Gables, Florida
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin (B.A.)
Profession Banker, Consultant
Religion Episcopalian (Before 1995)
Roman Catholic (1995–present)
Signature Cursive signature in ink

John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953) is an American businessman and politician who served as the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.

Bush is the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, a brother of former President George W. Bush, and grandson of the late Senator Prescott Sheldon Bush. He grew up in Houston, Texas. He graduated from the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and attended the University of Texas, where he earned a degree in Latin American affairs. Following his father's successful run for Vice President in 1980, he moved to Florida and pursued a career in real estate development. In 1986, Bush was named Florida's Secretary of Commerce, a position he held until his resignation in 1988 to help his father's successful campaign for the Presidency.

In 1994, Bush made his first run for office, narrowly losing the election for governor by less than two percentage points to the incumbent Lawton Chiles. Bush ran again in 1998 and defeated Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay with 55 percent of the vote. He ran for reelection in 2002 and won with 56 percent to become Florida's first two-term Republican governor.[2] During his eight years as governor, Bush was credited with initiating environmental improvements, such as conservation in the Everglades, supporting caps for medical malpractice litigation, moving Medicaid recipients to private systems, and instituting reforms to the state education system, including the issuance of vouchers and promoting school choice.[3][4]

Bush is a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election.

Early life and education[edit]

Jeb Bush, front right, with family, early 1960s

Jeb Bush was born on February 11, 1953 in Midland, Texas. When he was six years old, the family relocated to the Tanglewood neighborhood[5] of Houston, Texas.[6] The nickname "Jeb" is composed of his initials J.E.B. (John Ellis Bush).[7]

He grew up with two younger brothers, Neil and Marvin, one younger sister, Dorothy, and one brother, George, who is seven years older. Jeb Bush initially attended Grady Elementary School in Houston.[8] Following in the footsteps of his father and older brother George, at the age of 14 years in the fall of 1967,[5] Bush began attending high school at the Andover, Massachusetts boarding school Phillips Academy Andover.[9] Even though he received poor grades at first and occasionally smoked marijuana, he made the honor roll by the end of his senior year and served as captain of the tennis team.[10]

At the age of 17, Bush taught English as a second language and assisted in the building of a school in Ibarrilla, a small village outside of León, Guanajuato, Mexico,[11] as part of Andover's student exchange summer program.[12] While in Mexico, he met his future wife, Columba Garnica Gallo.[12][13]

Bush, who had largely avoided criticizing or supporting the Vietnam War, registered for the draft after his graduation from high school in 1971.[10] In the fourth and final draft lottery drawing, on February 2, 1972, for men born in 1953 and to be inducted during 1973, Bush received a draft number of 26 on a calendar-based scale that went to 365. But no new draft orders were issued after 1972,[14] because the U.S. changed to an all-volunteer military beginning in 1973.[15]

Though many in his family had attended Yale University, Bush chose to attend the University of Texas at Austin beginning in the September 1971.[5] He played on the Texas Longhorns varsity tennis team in 1973.[5] He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from the University of Texas with a B.A. in Latin American Studies.[5][16] He completed his coursework in two and a half years.[17]

Business career before entering politics[edit]

In 1974, Bush went to work in an entry-level position in the international division of Texas Commerce Bank, which was founded by the family of James Baker.[18] In November 1977, he was sent to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, to open a new operation for the bank, where he served as branch manager and vice president.[19]

Following the 1980 presidential election, Bush and his family moved to Miami-Dade County, Florida. He took a job in real estate with Armando Codina, a 32-year-old Cuban immigrant and self-made millionaire. Codina had made a fortune in a computer business, and then formed a new company, The Codina Group, to pursue opportunities in real estate.[20] During his time with the company, Bush focused on finding tenants for commercial developments.[21] Codina eventually made Bush his partner in a new development business, which quickly became one of South Florida's leading real estate development firms. As a partner, Bush received 40% of the firm's profits.[22] In 1983, Bush said of his move from Houston to Miami: "On the personal side, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were already living here", and on the professional side, "I want to be very wealthy, and I'll be glad to tell you when I've accomplished that goal."[23]

During Bush's years in Miami, he was involved in many different entrepreneurial pursuits, including working for a mobile phone company, serving on the board of a Norwegian-owned company that sold fire equipment to the Alaska oil pipeline, becoming a minority owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, buying a shoe company that sold footwear in Panama, and getting involved in a project selling water pumps in Nigeria.[22] Miguel Recarey, who ran International Medical Centres (IMC), employed Bush as a real estate consultant and paid him a $75,000 fee for finding the company a new location, although the move never took place. Bush did, however, lobby the Reagan administration vigorously and successfully on behalf of Recarey and IMC.[24]

Early political career[edit]

Bush volunteered for his father's campaigns in 1980 and 1988. During the 1980 campaign, Bush worked as an unpaid volunteer, and later said that his father is "the greatest man I’ve ever met or will meet; I can predict that fairly confidently. It was payback time, simple as that."[25] In the mid-1980s, Bush got his start in Florida politics as the Chairman of the Dade County Republican Party.[5][25][26] Dade County played an important role in the 1986 election of Bob Martinez to the Governor's office. In return, Martinez appointed Bush as Florida's Secretary of Commerce.[26] He served in that role in 1987 and 1988, before resigning to work on his father's presidential campaign.

Bush frequently communicated with his father and his father's staff during George H.W. Bush's time as vice president and president, from 1981 through 1992 .[27] The younger Bush recommended Dexter Lehtinen for the post of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and set up a meeting between the Bush Administration and Motorola.[27] Bush also advocated for the cause of the Cuban exiles, many of whom had settled in South Florida, and Bush supported the Cuban embargo.[27] In 1990, Bush urged his father, the President, to pardon Orlando Bosch, a Cuban exile who had been convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. Bosch was released from prison and granted residency in the U.S.[24]

In 1989, Bush was the campaign manager of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American to serve in Congress.[28] In 1994, Bush launched an unsuccessful bid for the Governor's office against incumbent Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles.[28] Bush ran that year as a conservative. A notable moment in this campaign was when he was asked what he would do for African Americans if he were to be elected. Bush responded: "It’s time to strive for a society where there’s equality of opportunity, not equality of results. So I’m going to answer your question by saying: probably nothing."[29][30] Bush lost the election by only 63,940 votes out of 4,206,076 that were cast for the major party candidates (2,135,008; 51% to 2,071,068; 49%). In the same election year, his older brother, George, was elected Governor of Texas. Following his election loss, Bush joined the board of the Heritage Foundation and continued to work with Codina Partners.[21] Alongside T. William Fair, the president of the Urban League's Miami affiliate, Bush helped to establish Florida's first charter school.[21]

Governor of Florida[edit]

Bush ran again for governor in 1998, defeating Democrat Buddy MacKay, who was Lieutenant Governor. Bush ran for reelection in 2002 to become Florida's first two-term Republican governor.[2] During his eight years as governor, Bush was credited with initiating environmental improvements, such as conservation in the Everglades, supporting caps for medical malpractice litigation, moving medicaid recipients to private systems, and instituting reforms to the state education system, including the issuance of vouchers and promoting school choice.[3][4] Bush was governor when his brother George won an intensely fought election recount in Florida to become President. Bush recused himself from any official role in the recount.[31]

1998 gubernatorial election[edit]

A portrait of Governor Jeb Bush.

In 1998, Bush defeated his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay, by over 418,000 votes (2,191,105; 55% to 1,773,054; 45%) to become Governor of Florida. He campaigned as a "consensus-building pragmatist".[30] Simultaneously, his brother, George W. Bush won a re-election victory for a second term as Governor of Texas, and the Bush brothers became the first siblings to govern two states at the same time since Nelson and Winthrop Rockefeller governed New York and Arkansas from 1967 to 1971.[32]

In the 1998 election, Bush garnered 61 percent of the Hispanic vote and 14 percent of the African American vote, a surprising[to whom?] showing for a Republican seeking statewide office.[33]

Economic policy[edit]

While governor, Bush presided over a state government that reduced taxes by $19 billion and he vetoed $2 billion in new spending, according to The Wall Street Journal.[34] An analysis conducted by economist Martin Sullivan, which eliminated the effects of the federal estate tax repeal (which did not require legislative action to go into effect) and inflation, estimated the cumulative reduction in taxes by the state at closer to $13 billion during Bush's tenure, resulting in tax savings by 2006 of US$140 per person, per year.[35] A substantial amount of the tax savings in the higher estimate came from the phasing out of the federal estate tax law implemented in 2001 under President George W. Bush, for a total tax savings of US$848 million per year; Jeb Bush did not push for a replacement with a state tax.[35] The biggest reduction in taxes was due to the elimination of the state's Intangible Personal Property Tax, which applied to holdings of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and money market funds.[36]

During Bush's tenure, the state also increased its reserves from $1.3 billion to $9.8 billion, which coincided with Florida receiving the highest possible bond rating for the first time.[34] According to Kurt Wenner, VP of research at Florida Tax Watch, Bush was governor during one of the strongest revenue periods for the state of Florida, due in part to the boom in property values, so that revenue grew despite the tax cuts he implemented.[37]

Bush reduced the state's government workforce by 11 percent.[38][39][40] In May 2006, as part of a $448.7-million line-item veto of state funding, he cut a total of $5.8 million in grants to public libraries, pilot projects for library homework help and web-based high-school texts, and funding for a joint-use library in Tampa.[41]

Education policy[edit]

Bush's administration was marked by a focus on public education reform. His "A+ Plan" established tough standards, required testing of all students, and graded all Florida schools. From 1998 to 2005, reading scores of 4th grade students in Florida on the National Assessment of Educational Progress increased 11 points, compared to 2.5 points nationally.[42]

Bush has been a proponent of school vouchers and charter schools, especially in areas of the state with failing public schools, although to date very few schools have received failing grades from the state. He established the McKay Scholarship Program which provides vouchers for students with learning disabilities to attend a school of their choice. He also established the A+ Opportunity Scholarship Program which provided vouchers to students. This program was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court in 2006.[42]

Bush was responsible for creating the Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship which provides corporations with tax credits for donations to Scholarship Funding Organizations which must spend 100% of the donations on scholarships for low income students.[42]

His policies were also driven by a firm refusal to raise taxes for education, which led Bush to oppose a ballot initiative to amend the Florida Constitution to cap growing school class sizes. Bush said he had "a couple of devious plans if this thing passes".[43][44] Despite his opposition, the amendment passed.[45]

In higher education, Bush approved three new medical schools during his tenure and also put forth the "One Florida" proposal, an initiative that effectively ended affirmative action admissions programs at state universities.[46] These moves were among the influencing concerns that led to the faculty of the University of Florida to deny Bush an honorary degree, while the University of Florida Alumni Association made him an honorary alumnus.[47]

Health policy[edit]

As Governor, Bush proposed and passed into law major reform to the medical liability system. The Florida Senate, a majority of which were Republican, sided with the trial lawyers against caps on non-economic damages. Bush insisted, and called the legislature into five special sessions. The contentious debate even included a senior Bush staffer calling for primary opposition to Republicans who disagreed with the Governor on the reforms. Eventually, the legislature agreed to the caps and Bush's reforms passed.

Bush passed a reform to Florida's Medicaid system that moved recipients into private managed care systems.[34] Florida was also the first state in the nation to publish hospital outcomes on the Internet, including cost and information on quality, infections and complications.[48]

Bush was involved in the Terri Schiavo case, involving a woman with massive brain damage, who was on a feeding tube for over 15 years, and whose husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, wished to remove the tube. This move was opposed by Terri Schiavo's parents in the courts. Bush signed "Terri's Law", legislation passed by the Florida legislature that authorized him, as Governor, to keep Schiavo on life support.[49][50] The law was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court on September 23, 2004. That decision was appealed to the federal courts. On January 24, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus allowing the Florida court's ruling to stand.[51]

While Governor of Florida, Bush was opposed to abortion.[52] He supported a law requiring parental notification for teen abortions and requested that the courts appoint a guardian for the fetus of a mentally disabled woman who had been raped.[53] Choose Life, a pro-life advocacy group based in Ocala, Florida, submitted a specialty license plate application—previously vetoed by Governor Lawton Chiles—which passed both houses and was signed into law by Bush on June 8, 1999.[54][55]

Other policies[edit]

Bush at Rookery Bay participating in Earth Day activities in 2004

Bush signed legislation to restore the Everglades in 2000 as part of an $8 billion project in conjunction with the federal government. He also set aside over one million acres of land for conservation as part of a land purchase program.[42]

In 2001, Bush eliminated civil service protection for over 16,000 state jobs, which had the effect of making it easier to fire employees in those positions. In addition, he issued an executive order which removed racial preferences in state contracting.[34]

In 2004, Bush supported an unsuccessful bill to allow illegal immigrants to be issued drivers licenses by the state.[34]

Bush supported more than a dozen new protections for gun owners.[34] In 2005, Bush signed into law Florida's stand-your-ground law,[56][57] which was the first such state law in the United States.[58]

Bush is an advocate of capital punishment and 21 prisoners were executed during his term.[59] After the execution of Ángel Nieves Díaz was seemingly botched – the execution took 37 minutes to complete, and required a second injection of the lethal chemicals – he suspended all executions in Florida on December 15, 2006[60]

During Bush's tenure, the racial and gender diversity of the state's judicial bench increased. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, Democrats criticized some of Bush's judicial appointments as being "overtly partisan and political".[34]

Veto of high speed rail and other vetoes[edit]

Bush often used the line-item veto to limit state spending.[61][62] He exercised his veto to stop other legislation as well (such as a bill about "parenting coordinators").[63]

In 1995, the Florida state legislature created the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) and came up with a public-private partnership model. Government would build the system leveraging state dollars with federal funds and tax-free bonding. The private sector was to invest money in the project, help design and build the network, and be given the franchise to operate the trains–known as Design-Build-Operate-Maintain (DBOM). Trains would be privately owned, similar to how the airline industry operates in a publicly financed airport.[64] The rail system and its planning was estimated to cost $7–$8 billion.[65]

On January 14, 1999, Bush announced that the venture posed too much risk and too much cost for Florida taxpayers and that further funding would be halted.[66] In response, Florida businessman C.C. (Doc) Dockery, the former chairman of the Florida High Speed Rail Commission, authored a constitutional amendment that was added to the Florida ballot in 2000. The amendment was approved by voters. The amendment directed Bush and the Florida legislature to start building a high speed monorail, fixed guide way, or magnetic levitation system linking Florida's five largest urban areas by 2003.[67] Bush vetoed funding for the project and led a high-profile campaign to amend the Florida constitution to repeal the 2000 constitutional amendment that mandated the construction of the high-speed system.[64][65] In 2004, voters approved that amendment to repeal the 2000 high-speed rail amendment.[68]

2002 gubernatorial re-election[edit]

Bush was unopposed in the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary, and in the general election he faced Democratic challenger Bill McBride. They met for two debates, in the most expensive Florida gubernatorial election yet.[69][70][71] Voting went smoothly.[72] Bush defeated McBride 56% to 43%, a greater margin of victory than in 1998.

Bush won 44 percent of the state's Jewish vote in the 2002 race.[73] Bush also won the white female vote in the swing-voting battleground of Central Florida's I-4 corridor.[74] However, he was not able to replicate the same success with African American voters (like he had earlier in 1998), winning only 8 percent of the African American vote. He became the first Republican governor of Florida to win re-election.[2]


Impact on political party[edit]

In Derry, New Hampshire on June 16, 2015

According to political scientist Susan MacManus from the University of South Florida, "In Florida, [Bush is] still perceived as conservative, especially on fiscal issues and even on social issues."[36] Outside of Florida, fellow Republican leaders throughout the country have sought Bush's aid both on and off the campaign trail. Bush's out-of-state campaign visits include Kentucky, where Republican challenger Ernie Fletcher appeared with Bush and won that state's governorship in 2003, ending a 32-year streak of Democratic governors.[75] Fast forward to the first few months of 2014, and Bush was campaigning for New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), and David Jolly who won a special congressional election in Florida.[76]

Bush has been criticized by some in the Tea Party as not being sufficiently conservative, as he supports positions on immigration and Common Core that are unpopular with some conservatives.[77] Bush publicly criticized the national Republican party for its adherence to "an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement" on June 11, 2012. In comments shared with Bloomberg View, Bush suggested that former Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush would "have had a hard time" finding support in the contemporary GOP.[78]

Political interests and business activities[edit]

From 2004 to 2007, Bush served as a Board Member for the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB).[79] Created by Congress, the board's purpose is to establish policy on reports examining K-12 students' academic progress in America's public and private schools. Since then Bush's education foundation has advocated for the Common Core State Standards Initiative.[80] In October 2013, referring to opponents of the standards, Bush said that while "criticisms and conspiracy theories are easy attention grabbers", he instead wanted to hear their solutions to the problems in American education.[81]

In May 2006, Bush was privately approached to become the next commissioner of the National Football League.[82] The former commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, announced that his tenure would soon be over and he was searching for replacements. "I'm flattered", Jeb Bush said May 24, 2006, of the NFL's interest, "but I'm Governor of the state of Florida and I intend to be Governor until I leave—which is January 2007. And I'm not going to consider any other options other than being Governor until I finish."[83] Roger Goodell eventually became the new NFL commissioner.

In April 2007, Bush joined Tenet Healthcare's board of directors.[84] The following August, Bush joined investment bank, Lehman Brothers, as an adviser in its private equity group.[85] Bush has also served on the board of InnoVida, Swisher Hygiene, and Rayonier and has served as an adviser to Barclays.[86] Bush would later return $270,000 in consultancy fees he had been paid by InnoVida after they declared bankruptcy.[87]

As of 2014, Bush had received more than $2 million from his work for Tenet, a company that expected to receive $100 million in new earnings in 2014 because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that "aggressively encouraged Americans to sign up for insurance under the program...."[86] Bush has reportedly objected to the ACA at company meetings, but has kept his personal views separate from what is best for Tenet.[86]

In April 2013, Bush authored a cover story for Newsmax magazine, urging conservatives to form a movement of "growth and opportunity" and warning that America's entitlement system risked collapse unless there was a course correction in U.S. public policy. Bush touted a six-point plan for the conservative movement that included tax reform, education reform, a welcoming immigration policy, energy independence, regulatory reform, and pro-family policies.[88]

In October 2013, Bush called for passage of immigration reform.[89] In April 2014, Bush said of illegal immigration: "It's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family. I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families."[90]

2016 presidential election[edit]

Jeb Bush speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February 2015
Logo for Bush's Right to Rise Super PAC

Bush was considered a potential candidate in the 2016 presidential election since the end of the 2012 election.[91]

At a press conference on April 16, 2013, at Bluefield College, Bush stated he had not begun the decision making process about a run but that he would begin to consider a run soon.[92] On October 2, 2014, Bush's brother George said that his brother "wants to be President".[93]

On December 16, 2014, Bush announced via Facebook that he would be "actively exploring" a 2016 run to become President of the United States and at the end of the year resigned several corporate boards.[94][95]

In February 2015, Bush released several thousand emails from his time as Governor online. Most of the emails are in the public record under Florida's Sunshine Laws. However, Bush created controversy by releasing some emails that included some personal details such as social security numbers, names and addresses, as well as the contents of the messages.[96][97] Bush's campaign team subsequently redacted the personal information.[98]

By extending the exploration mode of his potential candidacy to a six-month period (his scheduled announcement one day short of six months into his exploratory phase), Bush has used his time to get acquainted with the press, court donors, and prepare strategy. In doing this, he navigated several campaign finance laws which limit donations and prohibit coordination with Super PACs.[99] In May 2015, it was reported that Bush has been raising money since January 2015, estimated to be close to $100 million, for his super PAC, Right to Rise.[100]

Bush announced his candidacy on June 15, 2015 at a multicultural campus of Miami Dade College.[101][102][103] According to Reuters, Bush characterized himself as a more moderate type of Republican who still has conservative principles, promising meaningful immigration reform, speaking some fluent Spanish, pledging to “disrupt” Washington, reminding voters of his wife’s Mexican origins, and criticizing potential adversary Hillary Clinton.[104] According to David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, "It’s pretty hard for [Republicans] to win the White House if current Hispanic voting trends continue. (Bush) has some unique abilities to appeal to those voters and he’s going to maximize them.” As of the date of his announcement, polls showed Bush essentially tied for the lead with a host of candidates.[104][105]

Political positions[edit]

Jeb Bush at FITN, the First In Nation Republican Leadership Summit, Nashua, New Hampshire on April 17, 2015

Bush has addressed a myriad of political issues over the course of his career, many of them during his governorship as already described. In conjunction with his 2015 bid for the presidency, he has revisited many issues that he addressed before, as well as discussing many new ones.

Domestic issues[edit]

Bush believes abortions should only be legal in the case of rape or incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. He does not support public funding for abortion clinics.[106]

Bush has questioned the scientific opinion on climate change,[107] while stating "I think global warming may be real", and "It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately manmade. What I get a little tired of on the left is this idea that somehow science has decided all this so you can't have a view."[107] National Journal writes that Bush "does not acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity drives climate change".[108] Bush has also taken issue with the second encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si', in which the pope asks for climate change action. Bush, who is Roman Catholic, commented: "I hope I'm not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope."[109]

Bush supports offshore drilling outside of Florida. He says that he supports the Keystone XL oil pipeline as well as fracking. According to his spokeswoman, "As governor he worked to strike a balance between our nation's energy needs and the economic and environmental interests of Florida. He believes states should have a role in decisions that impact their coastline. Expanding domestic energy production is key to ensuring America's energy security."[110]

After previously supporting comprehensive immigration reform that could take either the path to citizenship or a path to legalization,[111] in 2015, Bush took the position that people in the United States illegally should have a path to legal status, but not a path to citizenship.[112] In February 2015, he said that legal status and avoiding deportation should require immigrants to pay fines, get work permits, pay taxes, not receive government assistance, learn English, and not commit crimes.[113] In March 2015, Bush compared President Obama's executive orders creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) programs to the decrees of "a Latin American dictator", stating that he favors changes through legislation and not by executive order.[114] In April 2015, Bush vowed to revoke those executive orders.[115]

Bush previously argued that gay individuals did not deserve special legal protection[116] and currently opposes same-sex marriage.[117][118][119] In 1994, he wrote that "The public policy question is whether homosexuals deserve special legal protection..., or, to put it another way, should sodomy be elevated to the same constitutional status as race and religion? My answer is no. We have enough special categories, enough victims, without creating even more." In 2012, Bush softened his opposition to LGBT adoption saying, "I don't think people need to be discriminated against because they don't share my belief on this, and if people love their children with all their heart and soul and that’s what they do and that’s how they organize their life that should be held up as examples for others to follow because we need it. We desperately need it and that can take all sorts of forms, it doesn't have to take the one that I think should be sanctioned under the law."[117][120] More recently he has stated that people should accept court rulings that legalize same-sex marriage and "show respect" for gays in committed relationships, while reiterating his long-held belief that "marriage is a sacrament".[116]

Bush favors gradually raising the retirement age (i.e., the age for collecting Social Security retirement benefits) from 65 to 68 or 70.[121]

Bush believes in the right to bear arms and supported more than a dozen new protections for gun owners as governor.[34] He favors allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms, but supports maintaining certain state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.[122]

Bush opposes net neutrality.[123]

Economic issues[edit]

When asked about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), Bush said, that it is "flawed to its core", that it "doesn't work". "It might actually be a politically, a better approach to see the massive dysfunction. I think Republicans need to just take a step back and show a little self-restraint and let this happen a little more organically", said Bush, according to Politico. "I think the best way to repeal Obamacare is to have an alternative; we never hear the alternative." [124] In the wake of the King v. Burwell decision Bush stated that, if elected president, he intends to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.[125]

Bush cites his 2005 effort to overhaul Florida’s broken and expensive Medicaid program as a model for using market-driven reforms to cut the growth of health spending and rein in a big government program. While Bush’s plan, enacted while he was governor, did promote greater choice among private managed-care options, it also sparked a backlash among activists who charged that the very low-income Medicaid population often ended up with less care than under traditional Medicaid. “Gov. Bush was focused on three key things on Medicaid. That was putting transparency, access and choice into the Medicaid program,” said Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank in Florida.[126]

Bush supports a decrease in capital gains taxes and property taxes. He is a supporter of cutting taxes for all Americans and believes they do better with less government interference. Bush also is a supporter of welfare restrictions. He supports the following: a four year limit of benefits, a requirement that able-bodied recipients participate in work-related activities in order to receive benefits, and limiting benefits given to recipients if they have additional children while on welfare.[122]

International relations and security[edit]

In May 2015, Bush stated that he would have ordered the 2003 invasion of Iraq had he been President at the time: “I would have [authorized the invasion], and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got." He also indicated that the lack of focus on post-invasion security was a mistake.[127] He later stated that "knowing what we know now, ...I would not have engaged". "I would not have gone into Iraq", he said. He also argued that the invasion—though perhaps inspired by faulty intelligence—had been beneficial, saying the world was "significantly safer" without Saddam Hussein in power.[128]

In a speech, Bush said his brother, former President George W. Bush, was his main adviser on policy with the Middle East. Bush later clarified that he was referring to policy on Israel, rather than on the Middle East as a whole.[129][130]

Bush supports the continued collection of metadata of phone calls by the National Security Agency.[131] He also supports the USA Patriot Act, and criticized efforts by Senator Rand Paul and others to stop its reauthorization. Bush stated that Paul was "wrong" about the Patriot Act and stated that: "The Patriot Act has kept us safe, plain and simple. The metadata program has kept us safe, plain and simple. There's been no violation of civil liberties."[132]

Civic and charitable activities[edit]

After losing a 1994 election for Governor of Florida against Lawton Chiles, Bush pursued policy and charitable interests. He "volunteered time to assist the Miami Children's Hospital, the United Way of Dade County and the Dade County Homeless Trust".[133]

Bush served from 2012[134] to 2015 as co-chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.[135] He has also worked with The James Madison Institute (JMI), a free market public policy think tank based in Tallahassee, Florida. He helped the institute in numerous ways and still has his think tank working in conjunction with it. In June 2008, Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education partnered with JMI to hold a summit called Excellence in Action: A National Summit on Education Reform.[136]

In 1996, The Foundation For Florida's Future published a book that Bush had co-written, Profiles in Character (ISBN 0-9650912-0-1), a clear parallel to John F. Kennedy's 1955 book Profiles in Courage. The foundation also published and distributed policy papers, such as "A New Lease on Learning: Florida's First Charter School", which Bush co-wrote.[137] Bush subsequently wrote the foreword to another book, published by the conservative Heritage Foundation and written by Nina Shokraii Rees, School Choice 2000: What's Happening in the States (ISBN 0-89195-089-3).

Bush co-founded the first charter school in the State of Florida: Liberty City Charter School, a grades K-6 elementary school.[138] in a Miami neighborhood that, in 1980, was the site of the first major race riot since the Civil Rights era.[139] The school's co-founder, working alongside Bush, was T. Willard Fair, a local black activist and head of the Greater Miami Urban League. The Liberty City Charter School was closed in 2008 after falling more than $1 million in debt.[140]

In 2000, Bush established the Points of Light program to recognize an "exemplary volunteer, organization, or person".[141]

Bush is the honorary chairman of the Annual AT&T Jeb Bush Florida Golf Classic, a fundraiser that benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He first became involved in the benefit after meeting with committee member Lawson Dutton, whose child suffered from cystic fibrosis.[142] Supporters raised more than $722,000 in 2014 at the 19th annual Jeb Bush Florida Classic, exceeding their goals in attendance and revenues raised.[143][144] Since the event’s inception 19 years ago, the total revenue netted has reached over $7.478 million.[143]

Personal life[edit]

In the city of León, Mexico, where he was teaching English during 1970 as part of a foreign exchange program, Bush met Columba Garnica Gallo.[12] They were married on February 23, 1974, in Austin, Texas.[12][145][146] As of 2014, the family residence is in Coral Gables, Florida.[147] Bush is fluent in Spanish.[148]

The Bushes have three children: George, Noelle, and John. George (born April 24, 1976 in Texas),[149][150] went to Gulliver Preparatory School, studied at Rice University, and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law. In the 2014 election, he was elected Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.[149] Noelle Lucila Bush was born July 26, 1977,[citation needed] in Texas. John Ellis Bush, Jr., who attended Bolles School,[12] (born December 13, 1983, in Miami)[citation needed] works for a Miami, Florida commercial real estate firm. Bush has four grandchildren, two through his eldest son, and two through his youngest.[151]

In 1995, Bush converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism.[152] In 2004, he became a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus.[153] Bush, a member of Father Hugon Council 3521 in Tallahassee, has joined Father Hugon Assembly.[154]

Electoral history[edit]

Florida gubernatorial election, 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Lawton Chiles (incumbent) 2,135,008 51
Republican Jeb Bush 2,071,068 49
Florida gubernatorial election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jeb Bush 2,191,105 55
Democratic Buddy MacKay 1,773,054 45
Florida gubernatorial election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jeb Bush (incumbent) 2,856,845 56
Democratic Bill McBride 2,201,427 43


See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]