When former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) took the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday, he began his speech by defending his stance on two of the most controversial political issues for him preceding the 2016 GOP presidential primary: immigration and Common Core. Bush has been labelled as a moderate in the Republican Party, considering his pro-reform position on both issues.
The CPAC audience had a bifurcated position towards Bush. At the beginning of the conference, William Temple, a recurrent attendee and Tea Party supporter at conservative political events, headed an unobtrusive walkout of scores of crowd-goers at the commencement of Bush’s time at the podium.
Though, the ballroom was bursting with young professionals bellowing, “Jeb!” – donning stickers and other campaign regalia. They clapped enthusiastically even when Bush argued for a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants.
During a 25-minute question-and-answer session on stage with Sean Hannity, a Fox News host, Bush was bidden in verifying his conservative values. Even though, his discourse favored his previous statements regarding immigration, some conservatives expressed their cynicism about his kind of conservatism.
When Hannity asked about immigration, attendees in the audience booed, before fervent supporters of the Republican hopeful retaliated with overwhelming chants and applause. Bush said, while plugging his new eBook, enforcing security on the borders the foremost necessity. Furthermore, he explained “economic-driven immigrants” come to the United States to work and provide for their families. His plan includes a streamlined path to full citizenship, and there is no proposal to send 11 million back to their home countries.
Hannity then inquired whether Common Core, which Bush supports, is a federal takeover of education standards, Bush replied: “No, it is not.” While explaining he his supportive of the program, he reasoned that the federal government should not have the authority to develop standards, either directly or indirectly, regarding education. When asked about his moderate political views in the conservative party, Bush told Hannity he is a “reform-minded conservative.” Undoubtedly, Bush’s view on immigration reform are pro-citizenship, considering his term in office as the governor of Florida, a state which has a large Hispanic population.
Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, was asked about his thoughts on Bush’s position on Common Core and how it will affect his run in the 2016 presidential race. “It is hard to tell,” he said. Priebus explained the Republican candidates are in favor of the reform of standards – standards, nonetheless. Moreover, he added that the RNC is opposed to the notion of federal standards being imposed on state-regulated education protocols. The way in which the Common Core was created does hint at federal oversight and regulation being a necessity to overhauling U.S. education.
Following Bush’s appearance at Friday’s CPAC event, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), notorious for his keen opposition to President Obama’s policies on illegal immigration and pathways to citizenship, was scheduled to appear at CPAC to opine on Bush’s position. According to his office, Senator Sessions planned to argue that the Republican Party needs to focus on the American working class, before the handout class, when it comes to putting a Republican in White House in 2016.
By Alex Lemieux
Photo By Gage Skidmore – Flickr License