May 2, 2015


On the Stump, Jeb Bush Seeks to Keep Calm, Carry On : The presumed presidential candidate doesn't produce fireworks, but strives to connect. (David Catanese March 9, 2015, US News)

"My hope is that the '16 campaign ... will be about what we believe in, what we're for, that we draw people towards our cause, that we're not as reactionary, but that we're much more positive about the future of our country," he said in his remarks inside the wood-paneled visitor's center.

Bush's sober, placid performance drew encouragement from the crowd of neatly dressed establishment Republicans.

The first question in Urbandale, after all, wasn't even a question: A woman instead showered unadulterated praise upon Bush for his support of the much-maligned Common Core State Standards.

"You are an outlier in that sense," Mary Ellen Miller, a new member of the Iowa State Board of Education, told him. "Keep on that topic."

Bush didn't pause to revel in the rose petals being tossed at his feet.

He shot directly to an explanation about what he's for: higher education standards that are dictated by the states.

"I'm not gonna back down on that. What I can tell you is, the federal government shouldn't be involved in this," he said. "The federal government shouldn't have a role in influencing, directly or indirectly, standards or curriculum or content."

After his remarks, 24-year-old Eddie Failor approached Bush to commend him for hanging tough on immigration reform, another issue that's raised the ire of conservatives.

"Unlike some candidates recently in the news, he hasn't backed down from what he believes on the issue," Failor told U.S. News after his exchange, declining to name names.

A crush of media soon encircled Bush, and when a reporter asked about his solitary nature, he acknowledged he's trained himself to adapt to situations exactly like this one.

"Instead of wandering around, you ask me a question, I listen, I answer, I stay focused on you. There's like 25 people around us right now," he said, keeping his eyes trained on his inquisitor, even as a platoon of lights, microphones and recorders hovered over and around him. "Introverts sometimes just kinda go into a shell. So it's the discipline of listening, it's the discipline of engagement. I want to be better at this."

And at a retail stop the next day in Cedar Rapids, Iowa - about two hours east of Des Moines - he was better. Cedar Rapids is where his brother, George W. Bush, announced his presidential bid 16 years ago. It's also historically where center-right Republicans need to perform well in order to overcome anticipated losses in the northern and eastern enclaves of the state. Mitt Romney carried Linn County, where Cedar Rapids resides, in both the 2012 and 2008 caucuses. If Bush is to have any shot in Iowa next year, he'll need it, too.

Posted by at May 2, 2015 7:54 AM

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