Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's connections to the Hispanic community could give him a leg-up in the race for the GOP nomination as candidates seek to appeal to the 25 million Latinos who are eligible to vote in 2016, CNN
Bush is married to a Mexican native and his family speaks Spanish in the home. He met his wife, Columba, as teenagers in the city of León in Mexico when Bush was an exchange student teaching English.
Bush earned a bachelor of arts in Latin American studies from the University of Texas, then lived for three years in Venezuela, where he refined his Spanish and gained knowledge of the culture.
Since 1980, he has lived in Florida and ultimately served two terms as governor.
During his announcement Monday in Miami, Bush lapsed into Spanish, inviting the Hispanic community to "work with us for the values we share and for a great future that is ours to build for our children."
Bush's links to the Latino community may help him define himself as separate from his father and brother, even while he draws on the powerful connections of his family, The Wall Street Journal
"The dichotomy speaks to a core challenge of Mr. Bush's campaign: explaining to voters that 'I am my own man' and resisting policy comparisons with previous Bush administrations — while banking on his family's fundraising network," the Journal said.
But some say Bush will have a long way to go to win over Latino voters as he fleshes out his positions.
"Latino voters have proven more than willing to reject even actual Latinos as candidates when their policy positions are in contrast to the community preferences. Bush's marriage and linguistic skills, while symbolically important, would founder if his issue positions are in contrast to the average Latino voter," Matt Barreto, co-founder of polling and research firm Latino Decisions, told CNN.
He added that Bush has been "all over the map" on the issue of immigration.
"He's going to have to clarify his position if he truly wants to attract the Latino," he said.
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.