Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has stepped up his support for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bill McCollum, appearing with the candidate in three major cities and calling him “a proven conservative with a record of doing what’s right in Florida.”
As early voting is beginning ahead of the Aug. 24 primary, Bush accompanied McCollum Monday at campaign stops in Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa as McCollum battles businessman Rick Scott for the GOP nomination.
McCollum is “a conservative through and through, not just when it’s cool to be,” Bush told a crowd in Jacksonville. “When decisions have to be made that may be tough, Bill doesn’t have to go and read a poll. I want a governor like that.”
Bush declined to criticize Scott or his questionable financial dealings, the St. Petersburg Times reported. “I’m not in the attacking business,” Bush declared. “[Scott] may be a good guy and he may not be. I don’t know. He’s new to the game. In these kinds of times I think it’s good to have someone who’s been tested.”
McCollum served 20 years in Congress and is currently Florida’s attorney general.
Bush’s support of McCollum could prove crucial in a race where nearly one in three Republicans remain undecided, polls show. Bush left office in 2006 with a 65 percent approval rating.
“Jeb Bush is by far the most popular conservative Republican in the state, and I think his campaigning for Bill McCollum is going to let people know Bill McCollum is the proven conservative and he’s the person who is going to continue to carry the Jeb Bush conservative torch,” said state House Republican leader Adam Hasner in remarks reported by The Ledger in Central Florida.
Taking questions from reporters, Bush acknowledged that he differs with McCollum on some issues, in particular Arizona’s tough new immigration law, which McCollum supports and Bush does not.
“So what?” Bush said. “I’m not voting for someone to be a clone of me. God forbid if someone actually had all my views. That would be a little scary.”
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