Republicans considering running for president over the past six years have been delivering red meat to the base at conservative confabs.
But Jeb Bush Friday did not fit the mold.
The former Florida governor, mulling a 2016 bid, followed the retiring firebrand Rep. Michele Bachmann at the Faith and Freedom Coalition. But while Bachmann and the other speakers here, including Congressman Paul Ryan — the 2012 vice-presidential nominee — treaded familiar turf by railing against government and President Barack Obama, Bush didn’t go there.
“I won’t be pointing out the failures of the Obama administration,” Bush said to silence here. “They’re clear for those that want to see them.”
Instead, Bush laid out a detailed, four-point plan to grow the economy that included American energy, immigration reform, education, and family.
“I’d rather talk about how conservatives can govern again,” Bush said, “to begin to solve our pressing problems.”
A comment Bush made about immigrants’ higher rates of “fertility” drew much of the attention and distracted the cognoscenti in Washington.
“Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans,” Bush said. “Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity.”
Bush was awkwardly trying to point out that heavily Catholic, recent Hispanic immigrants have more children, in the way that Italian and Irish immigrants once did. Of course, that’s changing among younger Hispanics, as it did for the Italians and Irish. as the generations grew up in America and fully assimilated.
But that was a small moment in what was a speech that stood out for its tone and seriousness. It was a stark contrast to what has been seen at many of these conferences, as a host of Republicans have jockeyed for the limelight and the Republican nominations for 2008 and 2012.
Continue reading Domenico Montanaro of NBC News analysis here.