(@MarcACaputo, Miami Herald) -- Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and a leading contender in the early GOP race for the White House, has fashioned himself as the “education governor.”
But on Friday, Bush went veggie.
“I was the kind of the Eat Your Broccoli Governor,” Bush joked at the Broward Workshop business breakfast where he pointed out that his policies weren’t always perceived as sweet.
Judging from the applause of the 900 or so business leaders in attendance, Bush’s speech was received like candy.
In rapid-fire fashion, Bush hopped from topic to topic geared toward the business crowd: immigration reform, Port Everglades dredging, bond ratings, state and federal debt loads, education reform, pro-growth policies, foreign trade and imprecations against “taxing assets, taxing income, taxing the air you breathe, the excuse-me-for-living tax.”
But there’s one topic he wouldn’t touch: Whether he was running for president.
Bush tried to duck reporters on his way out of the Signature Grand event in Davie, and would only tell the media that he planned to make a decision later this year – likely after the 2014 elections.
In a friendly question-and-answer session, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson wouldn’t even ask him the question.
Instead, Jackson referenced Bush’s mother, Barbara Bush, who said the country has had enough Bush presidents, namely his brother and father.
“If you were to run for president,” Jackson asked, “would you get your mother’s vote?”
“So, um, yes,” Bush said.
Earlier Jackson made a joke about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s woes in what’s known as a the “Bridgegate” scandal
“When you were governor,” Jackson asked, “did you ever close any bridges for traffic studies?”
Bush wouldn’t answer.
With Christie’s fall, Bush is now seen as the candidate of the GOP establishment.
Bush is favored to be the GOP’s frontrunner in a new analysis from the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, which plays up the establishment roots of Bush, the son and brother of former presidents.
Some nationwide polls show Bush in front. Others indicate Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is the Republican to beat.
Nearly all show Democrat Hillary Clinton would beat them all, even in Florida, in 2016.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Bush friend and protégé, was once a frontrunner and is now in the middle or bottom of the pack in many early polls.
Dragging Rubio down: his support of bipartisan immigration reform last year. Bush has essentially the same stances as Rubio on the issue.
Bush has advocated for pathways to citizenship and residency for illegal immigrants, enhanced border security and immigrant tracking technology and an emphasis on admitting immigrants based on the nation’s needs, not family relationships with current U.S. citizens.
Bush said immigrants capture the entrepreneurial spirit of America.
“People who come here legally and illegally are the risk takers,” Bush said. “If you’re living in a rural area of Guatemala and you come, you’re a bigger risk taker than those who stay.”