On several issues – deportation, Dream Act, reducing class sizes, etc. – Bush and Romney haven't always seen eye-to-eye

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Today, Jeb Bush finally shrugged at Mitt Romney and provided what appeared to be a lack-luster endorsement for the GOP candidate—similar to the reception Romney has received across the country. Bush has been quite vocal in criticizing right-sided issues that may be leaning overboard concerning women, seniors and Hispanics. Romney’s extreme leanings are likely to bite him when he needs more moderate votes and certainly among independent voters who tend to curve the results in Florida general elections.

Here are some specifics of where Bush and Romney do not see eye to eye:

Conservative views

Jeb Bush (JB): “I used to be a conservative and I watch these debates and I’m wondering, I don’t think I’ve changed, but it’s a little troubling sometimes when people are appealing to people’s fears and emotion rather than trying to get them to look over the horizon for a broader perspective, and that’s kind of where we are,” said the former Florida Governor. “I think it changes when we get to the general election. I hope.” (Fox News, 2/23/12)

Mitt Romney (MR): “I Was A Severely Conservative Republican Governor,”  said Romney who delivered what sounded like a front-runner’s address to a full ballroom at a Washington hotel, emphasizing the conservative actions he took as Massachusetts governor. They are a contrast to what he called the failure of President Obama, saying “I fought against long odds in a deep blue state, but I was a severely conservative Republican governor. I have been on the front lines and I expect to be on the front lines again.” [USA Today, 2/10/12; Romney, Conservative Political Action Conference, 2/10/12]

JB: In discussing 2012 GOP presidential candidates, he said “I think it’s important for the candidates to recognize though, they have to appeal to primary voters, and not turn off independent voters that will be part of a winning coalition.” [CBS (Dallas, TX), 2/23/12]

The Dream Act

JB: “[The Dream Act is] a fair policy,” explaining that the undocumented students it benefits were brought to America through “no fault of their own” (National Journal, 9/27/10).

With Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry under attack for supporting tuition breaks for children of illegal immigrants, former Gov. Jeb Bush on Tuesday offered some solidarity by calling a similar proposal in Florida “fair policy.” In 2001, Perry signed the first state law in the country that allowed the children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates. Former Florida State Rep. Juan Zapata said the Texas law was “the model” for legislation that he repeatedly—but unsuccessfully—pushed in his state. Two of his key allies then are now among the GOP’s most sought-after stars: Bush, the subject of perpetual draft movements to run for president, and his fellow Floridian, Sen. Marco Rubio, a sure bet for the GOP’s vice presidential shortlist in 2012.

MR: When asked if he would veto The Dream Act, Romney said, “The Answer Is Yes.” He continued, “The question is if I were elected and Congress were to pass the Dream Act, would I veto it, and the answer is yes, Romney said” (Reuters, 12/31/11; Le Mars, IA Meet & Greet, 12/31/11).

Radical Arizona immigration law

JB: Bush announced over the weekend that he does not support Arizona’s controversial immigration law, saying that his half-Latino children might represent potential suspects according to the intended strictures of SB1070.

“It’s the wrong approach,” said Bush, who is married to Mexican-born Columba Bush, said at a National League of Cities convention in Denver, according to the Denver Post’s report. “The net result is not much has been done” (Huffington Post, 12/6/10).

MR: The Arizona law is, “a model” for how to enforce immigration laws. In a Republican debate, Romney was asked, “Should there be aggressive, seek them out, find them and arrest them as the Sheriff Arpaio advocates?”

Romney said, “You know, I think you see a model in Arizona. They passed a law here that says… that says that people who come here and try and find work, that the employer is required to look them up on e-verify. This e-verify system allows employers in Arizona to know who’s here legally and who’s not here legally. And as a result of e-verify being put in place, the number of people in Arizona that are here illegally has dropped by some 14 percent, where the national average has only gone down seven percent. So going back to the question that was asked, the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona and other states that are trying to do the job Barack Obama isn’t doing.” [CNN Arizona Debate, 2/22/12]


JB: Jeb Bush Warned That Deportation Of Undocumented Workers Would Cost Billions. “He said if the U.S. deported 12 million illegal immigrants from across the country, it would cost billions and not be very effective.” [Denver Post, 12/5/10]

MR: Romney said that he favored immigration laws that would lead illegal immigrants to “self-deport.”

Commentator Wolf Blitzer asked during a Republican national debate, “Governor Romney, the few times, and I think it was only once, that they experimented with self-deportation, only a handful of individuals voluntarily left. What makes you think that… that program could work?”

Romney replied, “Well, you’ve just heard the last two speakers also indicate that they support the concept of self-deportation. It’s very simply this, which is for those who come into the country legally, they would be given an identification card that points out they’re able to work here and then you have an e-verify system that’s effective and efficient so that employers can determine who is legally here and if employers hire someone without a card, or without checking to see if it’s been counterfeited, then those employers would be severely sanctioned. If you do that, people who have come here illegally won’t be able to find work. And over time, those people would tend to leave the country, or self-deport” (CNN Florida Debate, 1/26/12).

Reducing classroom sizes

JB: Bush said that he thought it was “a moral requirement to comply” with directives to lower classroom sizes. “Though the constitutional amendment puts the onus on the state to pay for smaller classes, [Florida Governor Jeb] Bush would shift the penalty for noncompliance to districts. Those that don’t begin reducing classroom averages by at least two students per year would be required to implement one of four unsavory options: rezoning, dual class sessions, year-round schools and vouchers to private schools. And those that don’t meet constitutional class size limits by 2008 would have to contend with a plan written for them by the state Board of Education. ‘I think there is a moral requirement to comply,’ Bush said” (Fort Meyers News-Press, 1/24/03).

MR: According to Romney, smaller class sizes are a “non-reform reform” supported by teachers unions to get “more teachers, more union dues and More Power.”

Romney wrote in his book No Apology, “Given the very persuasive data, why do politicians continue to promote and fund the massive investment required to reduce class size? To a certain degree, they are playing to the pervasive public perception that smaller classes mean better education. Politicians may also wish to curry favor with teachers’ unions.  Smaller classes mean more teachers, more union dues, and more power, so teachers’ unions are almost always supportive of the idea, claiming that small classes are an education reform they can support. Embracing such a ‘non-reform reform’ also spares many the hard choices involved in making real productive change in our classrooms” (Romney, No Apology, Pg. 208).

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.