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Jeb Bush says GOP nominee can’t afford to trash opponents to win in 2016

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Addressing a businessman who said he was afraid that the crowded Republican presidential field could lead to an intense, internecine GOP brawl, Jeb Bush made it clear Tuesday afternoon that if he runs for president, his intention is to run on his record and his ideas to win the presidency, and to just be part of the conversation.

“There are motivations for every candidate. Mine would be to win, and I know the only way one wins in a two-person race, is to get to 50 percent, and I know in order to get to 50 percent you can’t tear down the 40 percent or 35 percent. It’s just that simple.”

Bush was addressing about 300 invited guests of Gov. Rick Scott at the Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Convention Center, the last of seven GOP presidential candidates or potential candidates at Scott’s Economic Growth Summit.

For Bush, speaking before so many friends, it appeared to be sort of victory lap as he recounted all that he had accomplished in Florida as governor from 1999-2007. “We’re a resilient place,” he said of the Sunshine State. “We’re the kind of state that’s dynamic and aspirational and the dreams that we have might be bigger than in other places.”

He added that the state had a “passion for reform,” as he recounted his work in education, and the economy, proudly boasting of his “Veto Corleone,” nickname for how he reduced the size of government. “Government didn’t grow faster than people’s incomes,” he reminisced.

As he has done this year on the campaign trail, he boasted about Florida’s 4.4 percent growth rate, saying he could do the same for the country, vs. the “new normal” growth rate in the country of just 2 percent. He said that could happen by fixing the tax code, lowering rates and eliminating as many exemptions as possible.

His appearance closed out the day-long event at Disney World.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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