Jeb Bush

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spoke at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco on Friday. Bush is considering running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. (Photo: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / © 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP)

Debra J. Saunders

Opinion
By Debra J. Saunders
Monday, January 26, 2015 – Updated 5:01 pm

Jeb Bush may be the front-runner in the GOP 2016 primary. He is the son and brother of former presidents, who can tap into their vaunted fund-raising machines. In some eyes, the former Florida governor always was the more disciplined, thoughtful and worthy son. Maybe. But Jeb Bush also has a problem: He is a boring speaker.

Now that he’s apparently running for president, has Bush stepped up his game? I walked two blocks over to the National Automobile Dealers Association convention Friday to watch him address the crowd. Did he hit rhetorical heights? No, he did not.

Addressing a mostly friendly room, Bush started off well enough. He saluted his parents and the best father a son could have. He injected a little humor. People kept asking him how his brother is doing, so Bush told the crowd: “Since you asked, Marvin is doing spectacularly well.”

He had some good lines. “Sixty percent of Americans believe that we’re still in a recession. They’re not dumb. It’s because they are in a recession.” And: “Portfolios are strong, but paychecks are weak.”

But there also was CandidateSpeak — the kind of stock-phrase babble that says nothing. In Bush’s world, there are “ceilings above people’s aspirations.” “To achieve earned success, Americans also have to have the skills to do so.” Oh, yes, and it’s time to fix America’s “broken immigration system.”

“For some odd reason, there’s a dearth of leadership in the public square today. It’s important to have leaders because now people believe that dysfunction is permanent in Washington, D.C.” Stump speech or school book report?

On immigration, Bush is working to offer a more friendly face to Latino voters. Mitt Romney suggested “self-deportation” in 2012. Bush told the car dealers that the government should find immigrants who have overstayed their visas, and “politely ask them to leave.” That would take Washington from nanny state to maitre d’ D.C.

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