Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush lavished effusive praise on his father and brother on Wednesday, even as he acknowledged he’ll have to escape their shadow if he runs for president.
Appearing before the Detroit Economic Club, Bush said his brother, George W. Bush had been “a great president” and joked that he’d “take it outside” with anyone who disputed that his father, George H.W. Bush isn’t “the greatest man alive.”
He noted that their presidencies had given him a “front row seat to watch history unfold” and helpful perspective on the presidency, but he acknowledged that if he decides to run, his family name will present an “interesting challenge.”
Should he decide to run, he said, “I would have to deal with this and turn this fact into an opportunity, to share who I am.”
He said he learned valuable lessons from his losing gubernatorial bid in 1994, which he applied successfully in 1998 when he won the governor’s mansion.
“In that experience, I knew I had to share my heart,” he said. “You’ve got to care for people before you can get their vote.”
He said he demonstrated his interest in education by visiting 250 schools.
“By the end of that journey, people knew I wasn’t just the brother of George W. and the son of my beloved Dad, I was my own person,” he said. “I earned it by working hard to connect to people on a level that truly mattered.
“That experience on a national scale has got to be part of the strategy,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me a bit to be proud of them and love them, but I know for a fact that if I’m going to be successful ... I’m going to have to do it on my own.”
Earlier, he noted that he “loved them very much. I know that’s hard for the political world to accept. But it’s pretty easy for me to love them.”
“And I love them unconditionally,” he said, adding, “now the therapists can opine about that.”