They predicted that the crowd would be so fed up with Jeb Bush that they’d exit his question and answer period en masse right in the middle, but the only person who was even remotely exasperated about having to spend more than 20 minutes with Jeb Bush seemed to be Jeb Bush.
More than an hour ahead of his appearance, pro- and anti-Jeb forces amassed in the ballroom, staking out chairs and spots along the wall, the pro-Jebbers wearing bright orange “JEB!” stickers, the anti-’s mostly sporting Stand With Rand posters and an aggravated look. Both sides’ anger and excitement were temporarily muted by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, who received the Breitbart Freedom of Speech Award and then gave a lengthy acceptance speech that featured a detailed look at the spread of sexually transmitted infections (specifically genital herpes) and several long quotes from the Founding Fathers. Then, having reassessed their sexual habits, the audience girded their loins for the latest Bush brother who emerged in a full suit to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”
Jeb Bush didn’t give a speech per se. Like Chris Christie, who also needed to clear up a few things, Bush chose an interview-style format and radio host Sean Hannity did the interviewing. The plan came in handy because it forced Hannity to take on the responsibility of crowd control, and from the beginning, it was necessary, as competing Bush factions yelled and booed over each other after nearly every answer.
And now the important things: Jeb’s mom is okay with him running. He doesn’t really look or sound like his brother, but if you were only to see hands and mannerisms, he’s almost identical to the two other Bushes who have served as President.
While most of the speeches have been negative, or have presented, at least, competing visions for America, Jeb wants to focus on pairing principled opposition with a positive outlook. According to Jeb, “we need to start being ‘for’ things again.” He noted that Republican leadership has had a difficult time, but has also done a fairly decent job, given the parameters in which they are forced to work. He wants a strong national defense, and he wants to give people a sense that if America’s economy starts growing again, that a rising tide will lift all boats — even the middle class. He’s also very ambitious on outreach, ticking off audiences that he feels he can bring to the table, should he choose to run in 2016. “There are a lot of conservatives,” he said, “who haven’t been asked.”
Hannity’s line of questioning focused specifically on two issues: immigration and Common Core. Jeb’s had a difficult time addressing these to the crowd’s satisfaction, and he seemed a tiny bit perturbed that he was being routed into addressing them yet again. On immigration, he proclaimed his support for enforcing the border and narrowing family petitioning, and since he considers it impossible to deport 11 million people, he laid out his plan for giving something of a legal status to foreign workers that involves learning English, being a law-abiding citizen, and making economic contributions to society. But first, secure the border. As for whether he’ll let illegal immigrants jump ahead of American workers for jobs, well, in Jeb Bush’s perfect world, there’s jobs for everyone. He seemed mildly offended that conservatives were skeptical of his claim that, by making an economic impact, there would be enough jobs for both American and foreign workers. He doesn’t seem mildly offended, though, that he started the ball rolling on providing in-state tuition rates to the children of illegal immigrants.
As for Common Core, like Chris Christie, he seems to have once considered it a boon (after all, Florida has vibrant voucher, school choice, and backpack-funding programs), but now objects to the Federal goverment setting the academic standards on a national level. He would like to see the program reformed so that the Federal government just gives the money, and curriculum and content is left up to the locals. Like others, Bush pledged to cut taxes and veto spending (he has a record), and approach the conflict with ISIS by repairing relationships in the Middle East, building a coalition, and then bombing them. As for his legislative priorities, well, he’d like to undo everything the President has done using authority he did not have, create a more favorable regulatory climate, reform the tax code so that tax inversions happen to benefit the U.S., and build peace and security. He’s a “practicing, reform-minded conservative,” he says, and to the people who booed him, he’d like to be their second choice.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, he wears boxers. So I guess that’s all cleared up.
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