One Legitimately Great Thing About Jeb Bush

Photo: REX Shutterstock.
Jeb Bush announced his campaign for the White House on Monday, and while his experience as governor of Florida and his record as a social conservative make him similar to the other Republican candidates, he stands out from most of them in one area: He's a fluent Spanish speaker, married to a Mexican woman, and in favor of immigration reform.

Bush, 62, spent part of high school studying as an exchange student in Mexico, where in addition to learning the language, he met his wife, Columba. The Bush family is from Texas (and New England before that), but Jeb and Columba settled in Miami, where they've lived for more than 30 years.

His marriage and his children have given him a close connection to issues important to Latino voters, claims Bush, who served as governor for eight years. "Trust me, I know the power of the immigrant experience, because I live it each and every day," Bush said in Puerto Rico, as NPR reports. "I know the immigrant experience, because I married a beautiful girl from Mexico. My children are bicultural and bilingual."

The soon-to-be candidate has supported a softer approach to immigration issues than many other Republicans — notably saying last year that many people enter the U.S. as an "act of love." But he's been accused of flip-flopping on the issue of a path to citizenship — he has said he was in favor of it at various points, but later called citizenship an "underserved reward" for immigrants in his book, Immigration Wars. Recently, he's settled on what seems like a midway point: a pathway to some sort of non-citizenship legal residency.

Pro-immigration groups are already attacking that stance; a Spanish-language ad released today says Bush would condemn immigrants to a permanent second-class. But compared with last cycle's nominee, Mitt Romney, who advocated an immigration policy of "self-deportation," Bush seems relatively forward-thinking.

Bush has already raised millions of dollars for his Super PAC and rolled out his campaign logo, now it's time to see how voters actually respond to him after months of buildup. One possible way to gain credibility: A guacamole competition. At an event in New Hampshire, Bush talked up his guacamole-making skills. An R29 request for the governor's recipe was not immediately returned.

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