Though some may think Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s positions on amnesty and Common Core make him a liberal, Bush claimed to Iowans on Friday that there is “nothing” in his record that would suggest that he is a moderate.
In an interview with Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson before boarding his plane to travel to Iowa, Bush, who has declared that illegal immigration is an “act of love,” touted his record of reform while he was governor. But he never mentioned that he also supported granting in-state tuition to DREAMers and driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants as Florida’s governor. Bush did not regret having done so at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
“I cut taxes every year, totaling $19 billion in eight years. I reduced the state government’s workforce by 13,000. I eliminated Affirmative Action as a policy in our admissions and procurement and replaced it with a system that did not discriminate but yielded better results for African-Americans and Hispanics,” Bush said, selling himself as a strong conservative. “We created the first statewide voucher program in the United States. We had the greatest gains in learning of any state for a period of time and we’re still one on the national leaders.”
When Henderson asked Bush about conservative voters believing he was too “moderate,” Bush mentioned that he “took on the trial bar, the teacher’s union.”
“You know, there’s nothing in my record that would suggest that I’m a moderate,” Bush said. “And it is a record of accomplishment and it’s certainly a conservative record in a purple state.”
Bush, who hired veteran Iowa political guru Dave Kochel to run his campaign, is indicating that he will compete in Iowa instead of bypassing the first-in-the-nation caucus state. On Saturday, Bush, along with other potential GOP presidential candidates, will attend Bruce Rastetter’s Agriculture Summit in Des Moines.
But one only needs to look at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s fall in Iowa after he supported the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” comprehensive amnesty bill to see how important illegal immigration is to Iowa’s conservative activists. As Breitbart News previously noted, Rubio, another likely 2016 presidential candidate, led the field of potential GOP candidates in Iowa with 22% support in a February 2013 Public Policy Polling poll. Four months after he championed the Senate’s amnesty bill, he plummeted to fifth. He fell even further and has been stuck at 4% in Iowa polls since last November. As Breitbart News noted, a “December 2013 Quinnipiac poll found that 46% of Iowans would be ‘less likely’ to vote for a candidate who supports amnesty while only ‘24% said they would be more likely.’ Among Republican voters surveyed, 63% said they would be less likely to support a candidate who supports amnesty while only 13% said they would be more likely.”
Pro-amnesty donors, along with those who are pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion, have been fueling Bush’s fundraising efforts. Bush, is attempting to raise $100 million before formally entering the race, has raised so much money that his advisers are reportedly asking donors not to give more than $1 million before he enters the race.
On immigration, Bush repeated his talking points to Henderson about how more people need to buy his Immigration Wars book on Amazon (now deeply discounted), needing border security before other aspects of immigration reform are addressed, and criticizing Obama’s executive amnesty.
“I think the president’s efforts of using executive authority he doesn’t have is wrong and very damaging to trying to build consensus to trying to fix our immigration system that’s broken — or any other thing,” Bush said. “And restoring a sense that we can begin to solve problems again has to be part of the responsibility of the next president.”
He also rejected the notion of “Bush fatigue” and refused to accept that “some narrative has been built up that may not be accurate” about his inability to win over conservative voters because of his pro-amnesty views.
Having campaigned for his father in brother in Iowa, Bush said the one lesson that he took away “is that you’ve got to be all in. You’ve got to really take the time to meet people and campaign there actively one-on-one and on a personal level.”
“I’m going to go make my case and, once people know my record as governor and know my life experience, I think I’ll get a fair hearing,” Bush, who was sixth in the most recent Des Moines Register poll, predicted.