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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – As promised on Monday, former Jeb Bush released the first chapter of his e-book and host of emails from his time as governor.
Bush, the son and brother of former Republican presidents, spent January vigorously raising money, and is this month delivering a series of speeches aimed at laying out the themes of his prospective presidential campaign.
In the book chapter, Bush writes that he was seldom without his Blackberry while serving as governor from 1999 to 2007, spending roughly 30 hours per week reading and returning email to staff and Florida residents. in a prologue Tuesday he writes, “The idea of this book, through the use of these emails, is to tell the story of a life of a governor.”
It is also certainly aimed at raising Bush’s national profile and gaining favor with those who see him as too moderate.
In one of his earliest emails in office for instance, Bush declares, “One of our goals should be to have fewer government employees each year.” In the preamble to the coming book, Bush portrays himself as a conservative governor who opposed big government, favored tax cuts and less regulation of businesses and citizens.
Bush casts himself as being readily accessible, to the point that he freely gave his personal email address to constituents. “As much as I could I emailed back,” he writes, describing the experience as “quite humbling” at times, but “always eye opening, and (it) certainly kept me on my toes.”
Bush’s e-book is a reminder that he hasn’t held elected office in several years. The emails show that he was fighting to improve the state’s website, for example, at a time when many of his constituents didn’t have access to the Internet.
As he did in his 1998 campaign, Governor Bush recognized the power of the internet. Early on in office, he emailed his staff, “We need to get the web page upgraded as a high priority…get this done.”
Bush chose some humorous topics, writing of his executive washroom, “The bathroom door is the smallest in Florida. It requires a sideways twist.”
Democrats have already started to try to cast Bush as an out-of-touch businessman, and Bush’s book presents a narrow collection of the emails that portrays him as an engaged and compassionate conservative.
“Jeb’s attempt to re-brand himself as a champion for middle class opportunity is as laughable as the idea of Mitt Romney as an anti-poverty crusader,” Democratic National Committee spokesman Ian Sams said in a statement.
Sams was referring to Romney’s brief consideration of a 2016 campaign for president, which he said would have focused on low- and middle-income Americans.
Bush highlights examples in which he paid particular attention to child welfare, education spending and veterans, while focusing on conservative economic priorities such as cutting the number of state employees and cutting taxes.
He also casts himself as someone willing to stand up to the more extreme elements in his party.
He offers one email exchange explaining his decision to block the efforts of a political activist, Ward Connerly, who pushed to end affirmative action in states to address what some called “reverse racism.”
“I will do my part as governor to fight against it,” Bush wrote of Connerly’s efforts, later adding that while he opposes racial quotas, he found Connerly’s initiative divisive and said it would make it harder for him to pursue other priorities.
On Tuesday, the website Verge revealed some of the approximately 300,000 emails posted on Bush’s PAC’s website, and others, reveal personal information of some who wrote the governor, including detailed medical information and social security numbers.
A spokesman for the PAC said all of the emails are public record and available from the state by anyone who requests them.
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