After a rough few weeks, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has launched Jeb! 2.0: An attempt to invigorate his sluggish poll results, silence his naysayers and calm antsy donors.
To do that he is doing a re-launch of sorts of his campaign. He went back home to Florida to deliver a speech to a hometown crowd attempting to be inspirational, visionary and principled where he unveiled subtle jabs against former mentee Sen. Marco Rubio and the leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Also Monday he released a long-planned e-book that publishes his emails with constituents.
"For eight years, I gave out my firstname.lastname@example.org email address to anyone who wanted to talk to me," he told the crowd, adding that the book is "to tell about the work to turn one of America’s largest states into an economic engine where people could live, work and raise their family in safety and security, with huge promise for the future and free from the heavy hand of government."
The Monday morning speech in Tampa and the release of the book, called “Reply All,” which was planned well before his campaign faced its current turbulence of staff cuts and a poor debate performance will be followed by a “Jeb Can Fix It” tour with stops in Florida, South Carolina and three days in New Hampshire.
In his speech, after he plugged his 700-page book, Bush listed the reasons "why" he is running for president, including:
- "Our economy has suffered its slowest recovery since the Great Depression.
- “One in seven Americans lives in poverty.
- “ISIS has declared a Caliphate the size of Indiana.
- “Red lines get crossed without consequence, unleashing a humanitarian crisis as four million Syrian refugees flee their native land.
- “For the first time in the history of Israel, its greatest existential threat has been created by its greatest ally.
Bush also addressed mistakes he's made on the campaign trail, including a lackluster debate performance, saying he can't be someone he's not. He also framed the debate as a superficial showing.
“If you watched the debate, you probably came away thinking this election is about sound bites…or fantasy football…or which candidate can interrupt the loudest," he said. “I’m here to tell you it’s not."
He also attacked his fellow Republican challengers. Without using their names the references were quite clear.
A challenge to Rubio or Sen. Ted Cruz: “The answer isn’t sending someone from one side of the capital city to the other.
An attack against Donald Trump or Carly Fiorina: “The solution won’t be found in someone who has never demonstrated the capacity to implement conservative ideas."
Obviously an attack against Trump: “And you can’t just tell Congress ‘You’re Fired' and go to a commercial break."
This one is directed directly at Rubio who is often compared to President Barack Obama because of his youth and run for president during his first term in the senate: “The challenges we face as a nation are too great to roll the dice on another presidential experiment."
“After seven years of incompetence, corruption and gridlock in Washington, we need a president who can fix it," Bush said. “I can fix it."
Bush's e-book, which details email exchanges with constituents, is used as an opportunity to highlight and frame his record as governor.
“Emails allowed me to stay connected and get firsthand knowledge from Florida’s citizens,” he wrote in the book.
His time as governor is the cornerstone to Bush’s campaign message – often saying, “past is prologue” – and citing his accomplishments in the sunshine state as proof of his ability to bring change to Washington.
That message will be front and center on the campaign trail.
“It's about fixing broken things that I know how to do because I got to do it as governor,” Bush told Chuck Todd about the election for an exclusive interview on Meet the Press.
Bush also told Todd that the Republican Party needs "to be hopeful and optimistic, have an aspirational message,” Bush said in previewing the speech on Meet the Press. “I don't think conservatives are going to win the presidency unless we campaign with our arms wide open.”
This contrast comes against Bush’s rising rivals Donald Trump with bombastic style and fellow Floridian Marco Rubio’s future-centric message. Bush’s campaign has attacked Trump for weeks and has more recently placed increased urgency on going after Rubio.
Emails have been a hot topic during this election cycle, with great attention specifically on the digital correspondence of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. For his part, Bush has hyped his coming book as a testament to his own transparency when it comes to email.
The 730 page book includes an almost clinical explanation of what is included and why – including a glossary of acronyms and names – and clear delineation between incoming messages, outgoing messages and current day commentary.
“I loved being governor of Florida. It was an honor and a privilege,” Bush writes in the epilogue. “Now I feel strongly there is a better way forward in America.”