Hillary Clinton’s announcement emulated the style of the presidency itself: vast, formal, the spotlight narrowly focused on one person. Jeb Bush’s announcement was that of a humble office-seeker facing a tough race: a rally in a compact space, lots of cheering and amateurish music, introductions of introductions, culminating in the candidate in open shirt jogging his way onto the stage. Message: I’m fit! Message: I’m accessible! Message: I’m unentitled!
Unlike Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush offered little in the way of an agenda. He reviewed highlights of his record as governor of Florida, diagnosed some general ills in the country, and offered a generic aspirational goal: 4 percent economic growth and 19 million new jobs.
The sharpest contrast he drew was in his long discussion of family. He referenced his presidential father and brother (but not by name), saluted his highly popular mother, and lavished praise on his wife, children, and grandchildren. “See, a loving, united family! Not like that other weird presidential family that will go unmentioned here today.”
But all of this was bunting. The central message of the announcement was that the GOP also has a history-making first to offer: after the first black president, as an alternative to the first female president, here is your chance at the first Hispanic president. Okay, maybe not literally and personally Hispanic, but close enough! The pre-rally music was all Spanish. The setting was Miami Dade College, which graduates more Hispanics than any other in the United States. Bush was introduced by the chair of the college’s board of trustees, a bilingual journalist, Helen Aguirre Ferre, and by his bicultural son, George P. Bush. Bush himself delivered some of his remarks in his fluent Spanish, for the benefit of “the many who can express their love of country in a different language.” In response to hecklers, he spontaneously reasserted his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.