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Jeb Bush Enters Presidential Contest With Bilingual Rally

Michael Vadon-Wikimedia

John Burger - published on 06/15/15 - updated on 06/08/17

Former Florida governor tries to distinguish self from father and brother

In a thoroughly bilingual rally intended to reach out to a segment of America that often leans Democrat, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced that he is a candidate for president of the United States. 

"I will take no one and nothing for granted," Bush said Monday at Miami Dade College’s Kendall campus. "I will run with all my heart, and I will run to win." 

Bush, 62, was joined at the announcement rally by members of his family, including his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush. The crowd was warmed up with music from both Hispanic and Anglo cultures, including a performance by the Chirino Sisters. They in turned introduced their father, Cuban exile Willy Chirino, and his wife, Lissette Alvarez, who led the crowd in the National Anthem. 

The invocation was delievered by R. B. Holmes, a Tallahassee Baptist pastor who founded the National Save the Family Now Movement. He ended his invocation with "in Jesus’ name we pray." 

Bush, the son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush, was governor of Florida from 1999-2007.  He was the first two-term Florida Republican governor since Reconstruction.

His formal entry into the 2016 contest brings the field of GOP hopefuls to about a dozen candidates. He is the one of several Catholics to enter the race. Married to Columba Garnica de Gallo, a native of Mexico, Bush became a Catholic in 1995. Introducing his father, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush told the crowd that Jeb Bush began attending Mass almost as soon as he met Columba in Leon, Guanajuato. 

In an online video released earlier on Monday, Bush pronounced: “We grew our economy and led the nation in job growth, defended life and protected women from domestic violence, eliminated waste and balanced budgets, reformed schools and gave every child an opportunity.”

Bush has been a proponent of school vouchers and charter schools and reiterated that stance during his speech Monday. He has spoken out in favor of natural marriage.

"I believe in traditional marriage," he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this year. But he also said in January, when a federal court found that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, "We live in a democracy, and regardless of our disagreements, we have to respect the rule of law. I hope that we can show respect for the good people on all sides of the gay and lesbian marriage issue—including couples making lifetime commitments to each other who are seeking greater legal protections and those of us who believe marriage is a sacrament and want to safeguard religious liberty."

On Monday, he said that religious freedom in the United States has been challenged in recent years, and that even the religious order the Little Sisters of the Poor are forced to pay for employees’ contraceptive coverage, and warned that if Hillary Clinton is elected, it will get worse. He cited a recent speech in which Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination,  said that if the "progressive agenda" encounters roadblocks because of religious beliefs, "those beliefs have to be changed."

Bush was involved in the Terri Schiavo case, involving a woman with massive brain damage, who was on a feeding tube for over 15 years, and whose husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, wished to remove the tube. This move was opposed by Terri Schiavo’s parents in the courts. Bush signed "Terri’s Law," legislation passed by the Florida legislature that authorized him, as governor, to keep Schiavo on life support. The law was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court on September 23, 2004. That decision was appealed to the federal courts. On January 24, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus allowing the Florida court’s ruling to stand.

While Governor of Florida, Bush was opposed to abortion. He supported a law requiring parental notification for teen abortions and requested that the courts appoint a guardian for the fetus of a mentally disabled woman who had been raped. Choose Life, a pro-life advocacy group based in Ocala, Florida, submitted a specialty license plate application—previously vetoed by Governor Lawton Chiles—which passed both houses and was signed into law by Bush on June 8, 1999.

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