MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It looks like mentor and protege will go head to head in their bid to become the next president.READ MORE: Fired Former Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo Files Lawsuit Against City, Commissioners, City Manager
On Monday, Jeb Bush kicked off his 2016 presidential campaign at Miami Dade College’s Kendall campus.
John Ellis Bush was born February 11th, 1953 in Midland, Texas. He attended boarding school at Philips Academy in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Texas with a major in Latin American studies.
Bush moved to South Florida from Texas in the early 1980’s. He became active in commercial real estate and Republican party politics.
On January 5th, 1999, he became Florida’s 43rd governor and promised to return Florida’s government to the people.
“The best and brightest ideas do not come from the state capital but from the human capital that comes from our diverse communities,” said Bush.
Bush championed tax cuts and reduced government. On education he promoted charter schools, standardized testing and introduced the first voucher system in the country, although it was overturned in the courts.
In 2003, Bush won a second term as governor when he easily defeated Democrat Bill McBride. He became the first Republican governor in the state to be re-elected.
Back in December, 2014, the former Florida governor said he was exploring a 2016 run.
In his speech Monday, Bush made the case that those involved in creating Washington’s problems can’t fix them. The point is designed to jab Republican senators — one of them his political protégé in Florida, Marco Rubio — who also are seeking the presidential nomination.
In a statement Monday, Senator Rubio took a different tack.
“In politics, people throw around the word ‘friend’ so much it often has little real meaning. This is not one of those times. When I call Jeb Bush my friend, I mean he is someone I like, care for and respect,” wrote Rubio in a statement released Monday. “He and I have worked closely together for many years, on issues big and small. He is a passionate advocate for what he believes, and I welcome him to the race.”
He also took to Twitter.
In April, Rubio appeared on CBS’ “Face The Nation” and said it wouldn’t bother him if Bush entered the race since the GOP needs a ‘strong field’ of contenders.
“I have a tremendous personal affection and admiration for him. And my view of it is there will be multiple people running. We, we’re blessed, as Republicans. We have a strong field of quality people that are running. And I think the Democrats are struggling to find one,” said Rubio.READ MORE: Police Investigate Deadly Shooting At Hollywood Business
Senator Ted Cruz also welcomed Bush to the race.
“Gov. Bush is a good man and was a strong governor in Florida. I look forward to a productive and thoughtful debate on the issues most important to Republican voters as the 2016 GOP primary season gets into full swing. Gov. Bush brings a lifetime of service to this field, and his candidacy ensures our eventual nominee will be all the stronger and equipped to face Hillary Clinton in the general election,” said Cruz in a statement.
As Bush tries to convince Republicans of his conservative credentials, supporters are asserting that as governor, he was far more conservative than Rubio when both held prominent state posts. Rubio served as Florida House speaker in the two years immediately after Bush left the governor’s mansion.
Their relationship was close then.
Bush viewed Rubio as a protector of his political legacy. The governor presented Rubio with a golden sword in a ceremony symbolizing a political handoff nearly a decade ago, an endorsement that Rubio’s advisers point to when asked about the Bush camp’s early aggression now.
Subtle criticism has emerged from Rubio’s camp as he has spoken of the need to break with ideas from the last century.
Rubio’s respect for Bush is well-documented in his writings and years of political activity when he relied on Bush’s support, donor network and even former staff to help his own rise.
Rubio said he would not enter Florida’s 2010 Senate contest were Bush to run, and Bush didn’t.
Rubio was expected to defer to Bush again in the 2016 presidential contest once Bush began preparing for the race. Instead, Rubio announced his own presidential campaign while insisting the stakes were too high for him to “wait his turn.”
Several former Florida legislators now aligned with Bush who challenged Rubio’s conservative credentials during his time as speaker. In the Senate, Rubio has opposed taxpayer-financed special projects known as earmarks. But he supported them as a state legislator, these critics point out, in one year alone requesting $43 million in such spending for public works, autism and substance abuse programs.
“Bush was more conservative,” said U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., who served in the Legislature with Rubio and while Bush was governor, and now supports Bush.
Former state Rep. Juan-Carlos Planas, who also worked with both men and now backs Bush, made a similar point. “There were always projects that were important to Marco’s constituents,” he said. “And they always ended up in the budget.”
Rubio’s team hasn’t cast Bush or other rivals in a negative light. Yet a prominent Rubio supporter, billionaire businessman Norman Braman, has been less diplomatic.
“We have to look for the future,” Braman told CNN this past week in a round of interviews. “We have to go beyond the Bushes. We have to go beyond the Clintons.” He added: “We’re not a country that believes in dynasties.”
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