Republican Jeb Bush on Wednesday will seek to lay to rest any concerns that his foreign policy views might be influenced by the presidential legacies of his father and brother, saying, "I am my own man."
With opinion polls showing Bush a front-runner among Republicans jockeying for the 2016 presidential nomination, he appears set on avoiding getting entangled in debates about the foreign policy legacies of both past presidents Bush.
A list of foreign policy advisers whose counsel Jeb Bush will seek suggests he is trying to split the difference between party hawks and pragmatists. Many are drawn from the last three Republican administrations, including those of his father George H.W. Bush, brother George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
Bush will address the issue head-on in a speech at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He will stress the changed global circumstances that await the next president.
"I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man, and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences," he will say.
While distancing himself from the legacies of his father and brother, Bush will seek also to differentiate his foreign policy from that of President Barack Obama, a Democrat whose leadership Bush will say has failed.
"Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive," he will say. "We have lost the trust and the confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies."
It will be the former Florida governor's first major foray into foreign policy since he announced in December that he was considering a run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
According to speech excerpts released by Bush's political organization, he will say he has been lucky to have a father and older brother who have shaped U.S. foreign policy and that he recognizes "my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs - sometimes in contrast to theirs."
Bush is casting a wide net for advice on national security. An aide provided to Reuters a diverse list of 20 diplomatic and national security veterans who will be providing informal advice to Bush in the coming months.
The list includes people representing a wide spectrum of ideological views in the Republican Party. It includes James Baker, known for his pragmatism in key roles during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush presidencies, and former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, a hawk as deputy defense secretary who was an architect of George W. Bush's Iraq policy.
Among others are two former secretaries of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, former national security adviser Stephen Hadley and a deputy national security adviser, Meghan O'Sullivan, as well as two former CIA directors, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden.
Bush has said in the past that he supports his brother's decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003, which could leave him open to attack from Democrats should he win the nomination. His complaint about the recent past in Iraq is that Obama has let American influence wane in the region.
"Each president learns from those who came before, their principles, their adjustments," Bush will say. "One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world, and changing circumstances."
Bush's Chicago speech is the second in a series of appearances designed to outline the foundation for what is likely to be a presidential campaign. Two weeks ago in Detroit he discussed his views on reducing income inequality and bolstering the U.S. economy.
His Chicago speech comes as the United States grapples with the threats posed by Islamic State militants and Russia's aggression in eastern Ukraine.
Obama has relied heavily on air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq, but the militants retain large swaths of territory in both countries.
The United States has joined with European allies to impose sanctions on Russia that have had an impact but have yet to force Moscow to pull back.
His list of advisers suggests a willingness to listen to a variety of views from people with long experience, including former World Bank President Robert Zoellick.
Others include Paula Dobriansky, a former undersecretary of state, Kristen Silverberg, a former U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who was a long-time member of the House of Representatives from Florida, and John Hannah who was Vice President Dick Cheney's national security adviser.
© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.