Jeb Bush briefly spoke in Spanish, called illegal immigrants "risk takers" and touted Common Core standards while giving a keynote speech at the sixth annual Broward Workshop's State of our County Forum at Signature Grand in Davie Friday morning.
His talk had all the makings of a campaign speech, but, like the model of the Broward Workshop (a business networking group), he remained fairly non-partisan throughout his address in front of about 1,000 local business leaders.
The only presidential items, besides some circulated 2016 campaign stickers, came from his introducer, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson. He introduced the former Florida governor as "a future president of the United States," to which Bush deflected the "over-exaggerated introduction."
Here's a rundown of Bush's top three comments:
1. "The rich are always going to do fine in America."
Bush talked about the importance of economic freedoms amid complicated tax codes. He said "the right to rise has been challenged." Bush said people need to create an environment that encourages people to once again become risk-takers. Then he transitioned into speaking about education.
2. "In Asia today, they don't care about children's self-esteem. They care about whether they learn math, whether they can read, in English."
Bush used the Asia comparison to talk about the U.S.'s lagging education values. He said the focus is more on self-esteem and "complacency." This quote garnered applause: "You tell me which society is going to be the winner in this 21st century -- the one that worries about how we feel, or the one that worries about making sure the next generation has the capacity to eat everybody's lunch."
3. "There is no magic bullet, there is no pill that you can get society for this to change."
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The focus of Bush's keynote was education and Common Core standards. He called the standards a "benchmark to the best in the world." A few in the audience laughed about how high academic standards are controversial. Beyond a series of statistics about college readiness, Bush called Common Core a "truth serum" and emphasized its importance over any other government program. "To me, public education is the only government program that I know that cures poverty," he said.
After his keynote, Bush answered several questions from Jackson, who moderated a Q&A. He talked about a broken immigration system and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which he supports. Then, to close, Jackson asked him if he would have his mother's vote if he ran for president.
"Um, yes," a hesitant Bush said.