Jeb Bush Called Abe Lincoln America’s ‘Presidente,’ Not ‘President’

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush used the Spanish word “presidente” instead of the English word – President – while communicating with one of his aides to describe Abe Lincoln, according to decade-old emails reported by the Washington Post.

A day before South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley decided to remove the confederate flag from the state capitol grounds following the racially motivated shooting in a Charleston church, a Washington Post blog reported about how GOP presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush handled the confederate flag debate while he was governor of the Sunshine state.

In his report, the Post’s Ed O’Keefe explained that Bush quietly removed a flag from the Florida capitol grounds and decided not to support a proclamation for a Confederate History Month, but after news reports broke over the flag’s removal, Bush received emails expressing disappointment in his decision.

One of the emails O’Keefe highlighted ironically had Bush using the word “presidente” instead of “president” – which wasn’t discussed in O’Keefe’s report, but Bush’s choice of wording is ironic in light of his stance on immigration – with many Republicans criticizing Bush by arguing that he isn’t tough enough on that issue.

In fact, a recent poll out of New Hampshire suggested immigration would be a huge hurdle for Bush.

A Suffolk University Poll revealed more than eight out of 10 people surveyed did not agree with Bush’s statement that illegal immigration is “an act of love,” as USA Today reported, noting that more than six out of 10 of those polled “disagreed strongly.”

According to the Washington Post report, an Orlando man – Mark Hopper – was one of the Floridians to question Bush’s decision.

“I appeal to you to recognize this day. Many a brave man died doing not what he wanted, but what he was told to do by his state for the cause,” Hopper wrote.

“I was prepared to recognize the day but using language that was not offensive and was respectful of the organization,” Bush responded. “That effort was rejected. Rest assured that I am appreciative of your contribution to our state.”

Bush also noted in another message, “We would be denying history if we failed to recognize that Floridians today are in fact descendants of soldiers from both sides of the war. That’s why I offered to issue a broader ‘Civil War Heritage’ proclamation — one that would promote the discussion of the causes and effects of the Civil War from all perspectives.”

The Washington Post reported that Bush copied a handful of aides on his response.

“So even though the majority of Floridians sided with the south, Florida residents fought on both sides of the war,” wrote his aide, Cory Tilley. “And as you can see there were actually Florida veterans who fought for the union.”

“Long live the union,” Bush replied. “Abe Lincoln would be proud and he was probably our greatest presidente [italics added].”

This is just the latest in a line of questionable occurrences that have sparked criticism in regard to Bush and the Hispanic community—which he is technically not part of, but he views himself as an “honorary Hispanic.”

Back in April, news broke that Bush called himself a “Hispanic” on a voter registration form in 2009. In 2012, he called himself Florida’s first ever Hispanic governor. He’s not in fact Hispanic—he is white.

A 2013 Washington Profile of Bush argued that he’s “gone native” as a Hispanic, and Miami businessman Jorge Arrizurieta, who worked with Bush’s gubernatorial administration on trade issues in Latin America, argued that Bush is a “gringo aplatanado.” Roughly, that translates: Bush is a white man who’s become a part of the Hispanic community—or gone native as a Hispanic.

The Washington Post laid out how Bush’s “honorary Hispanic,” status began in the 1970s when he met Columba, a Mexican citizen, who would later become his wife.  The Post wrote:

The unlikely evolution of John Ellis ‘Jeb’ Bush into a sort of honorary Hispanic loops back to 1970 and a tree-lined square in Leon, a colonial-era city in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. Bush, then a teenager and student at the elite Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., was in Mexico for a three-month exchange program. One Sunday, he spotted a girl in the back of a car promenading around the square. She struck him as ‘beautiful,’ and so did her name: Columba Garnica de Gallo.

What is perhaps most interesting about this latest factoid is that unlike previous times—such as the revelation earlier this year that he called himself a “Hispanic” on the voter registration form, and his team said it was a mistake—Bush’s team isn’t even arguing that this was a mistake.

“It’s unclear where the paperwork error was made,” Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said in response to the early April New York Times report. “The Governor’s family certainly got a good laugh out of it. He is not Hispanic.”

This time around, in response to the Abe Lincoln “presidente” comment, Campbell isn’t calling it a mistake.

When Breitbart News asked why he called Lincoln “presidente” instead of “president,” Campbell simply replied that it’s because “He’s bilingual.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.