Republican Presidential Candidate Profile: Jeb Bush

The Hill Talk is giving a quick rundown of each Republican candidate in advance of the first primary debate on Thursday, August 6.

Here is our profile of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush

Jeb BushQuick Facts:

  • Born in Midland, Texas, on February 11, 1953 (62 years old); lives in Coral Gables, Florida.
  • University of Texas, Class of 1974 – graduated magne cum laude with B.A. in Latin American Studies.
  • Met his future wife Columba Gallo at the age of 17 in Mexico, where he was participating in his school’s summer student exchange program, teaching ‘English as a second language’ classes.
  • Converted to Catholicism in 1995, previously Episcopalian.
  • Speaks fluent Spanish.

Political Experience:

  • 1983 – elected Chairman of Dade County (Miami) Republican Party.
  • 1994 – lost Florida gubernatorial election to incumbent Democrat Lawton Chiles by 2%, 4 million votes cast.
  • 1998 – won election for governor of Florida, defeating Democratic nominee with 55% of vote (ran unopposed for GOP nomination).
  • 2002 – became the first Republican governor in Florida’s history to win reelection.

Positions on the Issues


  • “Goal as president” is to achieve 4% annual GDP growth, 19 million new jobs – told New Hampshire’s Union Leader, “we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours”.
  • Laments weakest economic recovery in America since World War II – “The recovery has been everywhere but in the family paychecks,” Bush told the Club for Growth in February. “The central question we face . . . is this: Can we restore that dream . . . that each generation can do better?”
  • While governor of Florida, state debt increased by $8 billion, and debt service payments rose by $772 million.


  • Supports Common Core Initiative (sponsored by National Governor’s Association), which sets national education standards and subsequent testing in English language arts and math.
  • Also advocates for “ensuring states’ autonomy when it comes to adopting high standards that are right for their students.”
  • Supported ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ (2001), which gives federal aid to low-income school districts and requires states to administer educational skill assessment tests for students.


  • Told CBS News in May that illegal immigrants should have a path to legal status, not citizenship – “You pay your fines, you get provisional work permits . . . you pay taxes . . . you don’t receive government assistance, you learn English, you don’t commit crimes.”
  • Has called for greater enforcement of immigration laws, prosecuting employers who hire illegal immigrants.
  • Wants to admit immigrants based on skill-set, not family ties.

Marijuana legalization:


  • Supports ‘repeal and replace’ of Obamacare, which he called a “monstrosity”.
  • Wants “market-oriented” reforms to health care system, “where local and state input starts to drive the policies away from this top-down system”.

Climate Change:

  • In 2011, Bush said “It is not unanimous among scientists that it is disproportionately man-made.”
  • In May, he reiterated that he didn’t “think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural.”
  • A month later, he admitted again “The climate is changing”, but “for people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant.”

Foreign policy/national security:

  • In a Fox News interview this past May, Bush confessed that he would have invaded Iraq in 2003, but “so would have Hillary Clinton . . . And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.”
  • Accuses President Obama of being naive in Iran nuclear negotiations; would cancel current treaty as president, if approved.
  • Says we need to “embed American troops” in Iraq and “arm the Kurds” to combat ISIS; supports building new U.S. base in Anbar province – “I believe that the efforts to date (in Iraq) haven’t been strategic, that we don’t have a strategy. This may be the beginning of the strategy.”
  • Supports NSA collection of phone metadata – “there has been a continuation of a very important service (during Obama’s tenure), which is the first obligation I think of our national government, is to keep us safe. And the technologies that now can be applied to make that so, while protecting our civil liberties, are there.”

Who will vote for him?

Currently second in national polls, Bush enjoys support from the Republican establishment. Corporate donors, as well as white-collar, high income, northeastern moderates are all solidly in Jeb’s camp.

Debate video:

On Education policy