Jeb Bush Speaks At The Reagan Library About His New Book

The former Florida governor delivered a signature speech and one of the strongest doses of tough love in the GOP’s post-election recovery.

By Beth Reinhard
Updated: March 16, 2013 | 9:32 a.m.
March 15, 2013 | 9:59 p.m.

For those who saw Jeb Bush’s clumsy rollout of his new immigration book as a tipoff that he had forfeited his political instincts, not to mention his principles: not so fast.

The former Florida governor delivered arguably the signature speech of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference and one of the strongest doses of tough love in the Republican Party’s post-election recovery period. It stretched out two arms toward a rapidly diversifying electorate and a global economy, dipped into the weeds of public policy on immigration and education, and envisioned his party’s road back to the White House.

Even if Bush rules out a presidential bid in 2016, as his closest allies suspect, the speech signals that he will continue to be a force in domestic policy debates and Republican politics.

“I’m here to tell you there is no us or them,” Bush said, repositioning himself as truth teller after a week of fending off accusations that he had flip-flopped on immigration. “The face of the Republican Party needs to be the face of every American, and we need to be the party of inclusion and acceptance. It’s our heritage and it’s our future and we need to couch our efforts in those terms.”

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