Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appears poised for a presidential run and is currently leading the polls among potential Republican candidates for 2016, but the comments he made in 1994 during his first run for Florida’s highest office may come back to haunt him.
The Associated Press reports that Bush described himself then as a “head-banging conservative” and used fiery rhetoric — such as claiming he would do “probably nothing” for African-Americans if he became governor — in his ultimately unsuccessful bid.
Bush made that statement in response to a question on what he would for African-Americans if elected to office.
“It’s time to strive for a society where there’s equality of opportunity, not equality of results. So I’m going to answer your question by saying: probably nothing,” he replied.
Bush made other comments that don’t mesh well with his present image as a moderate Republican. He said that women on welfare “should be able to get their life together and find a husband.” On the issue of granting special legal privileges to gays and lesbians, Bush believed “we have enough special categories, enough victims, without creating even more.” He also said that “sodomy” should not hold the same constitutional status as race and religion.
Since 1994, Bush has changed the tone of his rhetoric significantly.
In his successful 1998 run for governor, he apologized for his previous comments about African-Americans and campaigned hard in their communities. Jeb has also become a leading figure for accepting gay marriage within the Republican Party. He also strongly advocates granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, a stance unpopular among the party’s base.
However, his advisers claim he is still the same conservative he ran as in 1994.
“He didn’t change his core principles,” Sally Bradshaw, a close adviser to Bush, told the AP. “He saw a way to bring people along.”
Another former aide says that Bush had to change his presentation because his “Ted Cruz-tone” cost him the election.
While Bush’s aides feel that a “Ted Cruz-tone” hurt Jeb then, aides for another possible 2016 candidate feel that the actual Cruz will wreck Bush’s chances in the upcoming primary.
“Jeb is Common Core, Jeb is immigration, Jeb has been talking about raising taxes recently. Can you imagine Jeb trying to get through a Republican primary? Can you imagine what Ted Cruz is going to do to Jeb Bush? I mean, that’s going to be ugly,” an adviser to Mitt Romney told Buzzfeed Friday.