From Miami, Florida
Formally kicking off his bid for the White House, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush aggressively attacked Democrats in a speech here, accusing them of pursuing a “no change agenda” in order to get Hillary Clinton elected as the successor to President Barack Obama.
“The presidency should not be passed from one liberal to the next,” Bush said to cheers at Miami Dade College.
“They’ve offered a progressive agenda that includes everything but progress,” Bush said, as he rapped Democrats for pursuing what he labeled a “no suspense primary” in 2016.
“You and I know that America deserves better,” Bush said.
Bush used his speech to not only take after Democrats, but also to make the case to his own party that his time as Governor in Florida shows he can fix the ways of Washington, D.C.
“I know we can fix this,” Bush said with an uncharacteristic amount of energy in his voice. “Because I’ve done it.”
Bush supporters echoed that assessment, as they said it’s time to tell the story of Jeb Bush from his time as Governor.
“There aren’t a lot of politicians like Jeb Bush,” said Berthy De La Rosa-Aponte, who worked with Bush while he was Governor to deal with children hit by developmental diseases.
Bush’s former Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings called Bush a “rock ribbed, head banging conservative” – not exactly the way some on the right side of the GOP might regard Jeb.
“He never backs away from an issue,” Jennings said, labeling Bush a “conservative with a solid record of results.”
The diverse crowd at Miami Dade College on the south side of Miami was chock full of familiar Republican names from the state of Florida – members of the Bush cabinet from when he was Governor, former GOP lawmakers in Congress and state party officials.
“I’m telling you,” ex-Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) told me in an interview after the speech, “if I’m a Democrat, I’m worried.”
“Jeb is in a category of one,” said ex-Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL).
Their presence was duly noted, mainly because of the absence of those types of Republicans from the announcement back in April by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) – while Rubio and Bush are almost neighbors, Bush clearly represents the GOP Establishment here in Florida.
Rubio noted the arrival of his fellow Republican from the Sunshine State.
“He is a passionate advocate for what he believes, and I welcome him to the race,” Rubio said in a statement.
“That Marco Rubio is very good,” said Bush supporter Jose Fuentes of Miami, who made a very simple argument on why he picked Jeb over Marco.
“I think it’s too soon for him,” Fuentes said. “I think Marco Rubio belongs to the Senate.”