I am quite baffled that some folks think Jeb Bush is an establishment candidate and not a true conservative.
Granted, the former Florida governor's support for the Common Core educational initiative and immigration reform might give that impression.
But the truth is Jeb Bush governed Florida as a strong conservative, and he has long identified, even before becoming governor, with the pro-growth, conservative ideas championed by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp.
In my mind, the 2016 election will not be about ideology, it will be about finding solutions to America's problems.
Jeb is a solutions guy who always defaults to pro-growth, pro-liberty and pro-free enterprise ideas that, in my book, are the best cure for the ills we face.
A long-time member of the Heritage Foundation's Board of Trustees, Jeb in April 2013 wrote the cover story for Newsmax magazine entitled "We Can Be Great Again
," offering his six-point plan for fixing America.
Now that Jeb has indicated he is running for president, I would encourage you to take a moment and read his article by Going Here Now
In Newsmax, Gov. Bush argued that America's entitlement system risks collapse unless there is a course correction in U.S. public policy.
Bush's six-point plan would restore growth to the economy, and includes a key plank calling for more legal immigration – I underscore the word legal. Bush strongly opposes illegal immigration.
Nor is Bush for "open borders," as some of his critics have claimed. I have little doubt that, in short order, a President Jeb Bush would make the Mexican border air-tight secure.
In his six-point plan he also called for a far simpler tax code that is less likely to hold back investment and employment, improvements in education, energy independence, and a reduction of regulations that stifle economic growth.
The conservative movement has to be "a movement of growth and opportunity," he wrote. "The core message of the conservative movement, and the Republican Party, has to be that America can do better and America can always be better."
So what is the big deal about his support for Common Core?
As governor of a major state, Gov. Bush saw firsthand how many states are failing to administer and support their schools, with academic standards plummeting.
In Tallahassee, Gov. Bush focused like a laser beam on Florida schools, and it paid off.
His first major initiative was the Florida A-Plus Plan, which required Florida students in grades three through 10 to take the annual Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test, and based on the results, each public school was graded on an A-to-F scale.
When grading began, close to 80 percent of schools fell short of an A or a B.
By 2011, three-quarters of school were performing at that A and B level. Within a decade of Bush’s initiative, Florida's students soared, ranking far ahead of other states based on improving scores on the National Assessment of Education Programs fourth-grade reading test.
Bush gave students in poorly ranked schools vouchers to attend private and religious schools, and expanded access to online classes and charter schools.
He also attracted new talent to the teaching profession by offering alternative routes to certification, and made Florida a national leader in giving low-income students access to Advanced Placement classes.
Jeb Bush is also a "big-picture Republican" who wants to bring into the GOP tent new voters, including Hispanics. He won record Hispanic support as Florida’s governor, not by offering liberal platitudes, but by doing things, starting with education, which improved the lives of Hispanics.
I might add that no Republican presidential candidate will win in 2016 unless he or she pulls in a substantial Latino vote.
Bush has also been anti-tax and pro-business, as he explained in his Newsmax magazine piece.
But let’s put policies aside for second.
I have met so many politicians in my life that somewhere along the way I lost count. Jeb Bush is not only one of the most competent political leaders I have ever met, he is also one of the most sincere.
As one of the examples of his competency, I lived in the state of Florida in 2004 when no less than four major hurricanes pummeled the state, hitting from both the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
I witnessed firsthand the state's responses to each of these, which was immediate, coordinated and effective. No Katrina ever happened under Jeb Bush's watch.
In fact, his emergency disaster model was mimicked by Barack Obama when he became president, and he even tapped Bush's state emergency director to head FEMA.
On the personal side, Gov. Bush really cares about his work. I have seen many signs of this. His commitment to the state’s education reforms after he left office is very telling.
One anecdote: I recall in the closing month of his administration, December 2006, watching the evening news as they reported Gov. Bush was holding his last "Meet the Governor" day in some rural county in the middle of the state.
During his two terms, Bush had held these all-day events in every county where anybody could come to speak to him about any topic.
Amazing to me was the fact he was taking the time and effort to do this with just weeks left in his administration!
In my experience most politicians, knowing they were in the lame-duck period, would be taking it easy.
Not Jeb Bush. He is a rare and precious find in the political firmament. Look closely at his record and you will discover that yourself.
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