Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a likely top contender for the Republican presidential nomination, will speak at Liberty University’s graduation ceremony this morning. He’s not the first Bush to be on campus — his father, then-President George H.W. Bush, addressed students at commencement twenty-five years ago in May of 1990. Jeb has said that his dad is “the greatest man I’ve ever met or will meet.”
Jeb showed he was serious about his job as governor when, in 2006, he was privately approached to become commissioner of the National Football League. Jeb passed, responding, “I’m flattered but I’m Governor of the state of Florida and I intend to be Governor until I leave—which is January 2007. And I’m not going to consider any other options other than being Governor until I finish.”
In 2008, Jeb announced he was considering running for an open U.S. Senate seat. However, in 2009 he stepped aside and threw his support behind Marco Rubio, his mentee, who is now running against his mentor for the position of U.S. President.
Governor Bush was a champion for education during his eight years as Florida’s governor in keeping with the tradition of the Bush family. His mother Barbara is the driving force behind the Barbara Bush Foundation that believes “education is a civil right for all,” and encourages children and parents to learn together especially through reading. His brother, President George W. Bush, fought for equal education through No Child Left Behind; his sister-in-law Laura Bush was a librarian and encourages reading, like her mother-in-law Barbara.
A conservative leader who has deep roots in the Hispanic community, Jeb was governor from 1999 until 2007 – the first two-term Republican governor in Florida since reconstruction. During that time he cut $20 billion in taxes, vetoed $2.3 billion in earmarks, and cut waste by reducing the state’s workforce by 13,000. Florida flourished under his leadership to the point where he improved the state’s credit rating, achieving the first tripe-A bond rating ever for Florida. He created 1.3 million new jobs, and was instrumental in not only improving environment protections, health care, and the economy, but was a huge defender when he overhauled the state’s education system. He is a strong second amendment supporter.
A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Latin American studies, Jeb Bush served as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce before being elected governor. He is fluent in Spanish, is married to Columba who is from Mexico, and has three children.
He has chaired several nonprofit organizations, including the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the Foundation for Florida’s Future, and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Liberty President Jerry Falwell was enthusiastic that Jeb would be keynote speaker, noting, “Liberty University is honored to welcome Governor Jeb Bush to campus for our 42nd Commencement exercises. Throughout his years of public service, Governor Bush has been a champion for excellence in education and so many other issues of vital importance to our university community.”
Commencement exercises are at 10:00 this morning, Saturday, May 9, at Liberty University in Lynchburg.