June 20, 2015


How a devastating loss in Florida taught Jeb Bush what it takes to win (Karen Tumulty, June 14 , 2015, Washington Post)

It was a typically chaotic afternoon in Judge Kathleen Kearney's Brow­ard County, Fla., courtroom, where she heard dozens of cases a day involving abused and neglected children in foster care.

One father -- a tiny man -- suddenly became agitated. He was speaking in Spanish, and Kearney could not understand him.

A visitor in the courtroom stepped in: "I think he needs to be someplace. He needs someone to translate for him."

So on the spot, Kearney swore in the helpful stranger as an officer of the court. His name, it turned out, was Jeb Bush.

The frantic man was a jockey at a nearby horse track, and the court proceedings were running so late that he was likely to miss his next race. "He's worried, because he's afraid to lose his job. And if he loses his job, he can't get his daughter back," Bush explained.

Bush stayed for hours, until that and every other case had been dealt with. Then, Kearney recalled, Bush asked her: "Can we have lunch next week?"

That was late spring of 1997, a time in his life that Bush now refers to as "wandering around."

But he was far from aimless.

In that period, Bush retooled himself and his image from that of a sometimes cartoonish ideologue into what he is today. Indeed, as he prepares to formally announce his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, the question being asked is whether he is strident enough.

Humbled by defeat the first time he ran for office, Bush spent the mid-1990s broadening and deepening his knowledge of how his state worked, forging relationships that softened his profile and striving to talk about what he believed in a way that would bring people together.

"I learned tone," Bush said in an interview. "You can say the same thing that represents your core beliefs in a way that draws people toward your message, rather than pushes people away.

"And that's a lesson in 2016," he added. "To win, you've got to get to 50. To get to 50, you draw people toward your message, not use language that makes the dramatic point, which is effective in political discourse but turns some people away."

Posted by at June 20, 2015 9:28 AM

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