Jeb Bush came to the Tampa Garden Club this morning where a nice size crowd came out as he started his reset in hopes of jump starting his 2016 GOP campaign. Bush stood in front of the backdrop of his new slogan, “Jeb Can Fix It”, and took veiled jabs at his onetime Florida ally Marco Rubio. The young senator who bested him in a memorable confrontation during last week’s Republican presidential debate is now a big time target.
Despite taking shots at Rubio, the broader emphasis of Bush’s speech was to spotlight his tenure as a two-term governor of Florida. He took the time to make the case that he, unlike other candidates in the race, has the track record to steer a country marred by gridlock.
“The campaign trail is littered with candidates disguised as television critics. Politicians echoing poll-tested pabulum,” Bush said. “But leadership is something far different.
“It’s not about telling people what they want to hear, but what they must hear. It’s not about saying the right thing, but doing the right thing.”
Coinciding with the release of his new e-book Reply All, the campaign rally was the first in a series of events across early voting states this week in which Bush will seek to emphasize how he engaged directly with constituents in the past to solve even the smallest of their problems. The book, which has been in the works for almost a year, recaps Bush’s time as Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007 through the lens of his electronic correspondence with constituents, staff and colleagues.
The goal is to make Bush more look grounded and human. That image was widely questioned in recent weeks, as Bush took to criticizing Rubio in televised interviews and then in an ill-fated attack on the senator’s penchant for missing votes at his day job in the last debate.
He acknowledged his shortcomings, however, by running through the long list of advice he has received of late: some stylistic, like removing his glasses or changing his tie, and some more strategic: “Nail that zinger. Be angrier. Hide your inner wonk.”
Ultimately, Bush said, he had two takeaways from his time in Florida that he would look to in his bid for the nation’s highest office.
“One, I can’t be someone I’m not. And, two, getting things done isn’t about yelling into a camera, or regurgitating sound bites free of substance,” he said.
Some of Bush’s financial backers have privately said he has limited time to turn the ship around, a fact that was evidenced in Republican mega-donor Paul Singer’s decision on Friday to support Rubio. In another boost, the senator on Monday received the backing of Cory Gardner another young, rising Republican star who is a senator from Colorado, a critical swing state.
From Tampa, Bush will head to Orlando and finally a town hall in Jacksonville. Florida is the first stop on a four-day swing that includes early primary states of South Carolina and New Hampshire.
*The video used in this story came from CBS NEW ONLINE STREAMING and some quotes were from AP.