Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may be a surrogate for Mitt Romney, but he upstaged the presumptive Republican nominee while speaking on his home turf at the NALEO conference in Orlando Thursday.
In Romney’s speech to the group of elected Latino leaders from throughout the country, he talked about the economic plight of Latinos and outlined his stance on immigration reform in broad strokes, drawing both a few boos and polite applause at various points.
Bush, who spoke after Romney, gave a rousing speech on the issue he is most known for — one that hits close to home for many Latinos: education.
Bush got down to brass tacks with a list of ways to improve the education system, sprinkled with success stories and statistics from his time as governor.
Education is a top concern for Latinos, and Bush spoke about the issue with passion, humor and even some Spanish. He drew applause and laughter more often then Romney. He covered what he said was a failing elementary school system, literacy and school choice — which he likened, in Spanish, to the many options available in a supermarket milk aisle.
“Choice is as American as apple pie,” Bush said, smiling. “Or as American as un taco de carbon.”
Prefacing his comments on the controversial subject of school choice, he warned that his “might be the most politically incorrect” viewpoint.
Education, Bush said, “should be the highest priority for mayors, this should be the highest priority for business leaders, this should be what America defines itself going forward,” Bush said. “And if we get this right, our diversity becomes a strength, our country will prosper, our country will continue to be the greatest on the face of the earth.” He ended with a “Bienvenidos a Florida.”
Ana Navarro, Hispanic campaign chairwoman for John McCain in 2008 and an adviser to Jon Huntsman in 2012, indicated on Twitter that Bush was a much bigger hit among Latinos than Romney.
Make no mistake about it, if Jeb Bush was the Republican nominee, he would win the Hispanic vote, change Ntl political dynamic.— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) June 21, 2012
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.