MIAMI, June 15, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Jeb Bush put religious liberty front-and-center in his announcement that he is running for the same office held by his father and brother.
Bush, who declared his intentions to run for president today at Miami-Dade College, decried the HHS mandate, the Obama administration's lawsuit against the Little Sisters of the Poor, and recent statements by Hillary Clinton that religions that reject abortion “have to be changed.”
“These have been rough years for religious charities and their right of conscience,” Bush told the crowd. “And the leading Democratic candidate recently hinted of more trouble to come.”
“Secretary Clinton insists that when the progressive agenda encounters religious beliefs to the contrary those beliefs, quote, 'have to be changed.' That’s what she said, and I guess we should at least thank her for the warning.”
He called the Obama administratin's “shabby treatment of the Little Sisters of the Poor” the “most galling example” of executive branch incursions against the First Amendment.
“The next president needs to make it clear that great charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor need no federal instruction in doing the right thing,” he said.
“It comes down to a choice between the Little Sisters and Big Brother, and I’m going with the Sisters,” said Jeb Bush, who converted to his wife's Catholic faith decades ago.
He also promised school choice for children trapped in failing schools. “When a school is just another dead end, every parent should have the right to send their child to a better school – public, private, or charter,” he said.
He chided “the pampered elites of Washington” and promised tax reform consisting of a “vastly simpler system” created by “reducing rates for all.”
“We will make the United States of America an economic superpower like no other,” he promised.
He also focused on foreign affairs, promising a more aggressive international policy, more defense spending, and closer relations with traditional allies such as the nation of Israel.
President Obama and Hillary Clinton “have offered a progressive agenda that includes everything but progress,” he said. “The presidency should not be passed on from one liberal to the next.”
Bush enters the race with significant advantages, including a war chest of more than $80 million that may top $100 million by midweek, a national network of funders and establishment supporters, and a surname that has been on nearly every Republican presidential ticket for 35 years.
His record, before and after his two terms as governor of Florida, give the pro-life movement both consolation and concern.
As governor, Jeb required that parents be notified before minor girls have an abortion and created the state's “Choose Life” license plates. In 2005, he signed a law allowing the state's Agency for Health Care Administration to write regulations for abortion facilities that perform second-trimester abortions, saying he hoped “to create a culture of life in our state.”
In April, Jordan Sekulow told the Iowa Faith and Freedom Summit on Bush's behalf, “”We have got to defund Planned Parenthood, by the way – and Governor Bush supports those efforts.” Mitt Romney made a similar pledge, which the Democratic Party used against him.
His actions during the Terri Schiavo case made enduring memories – and enemies.
Despite once being regarded as one of the foremost conservative policy wonks in state government, Jeb has been shunned by evangelical and pro-family voters, as well as the Tea Party wing of his party, for his stance on numerous issues.
In April, he encouraged Republican senators to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general, although she defended partial birth abortion.
Political insiders say Jeb Bush has already “evolved” on gay “marriage” and supports redefining the ancient institution.
He remains a defiant advocate of Common Core educational standards, which have changed the way math is taught in school, changed traditional subject matter, and caused teachers to prepare children how to pass a test rather than master information.
“Am I supposed to back away from something that I know works?” he asked incredulously last March.
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Governors Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and Bobby Jindal initially supported Common Core, as well, but have turned against it.
The party's conservatives take exception to his insistence on granting amnesty to illegal immigrants – as well as his having given drivers licenses and in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
Bush's entry today makes him the eleventh declared Republican candidate in the 2016 GOP primaries. Still more presidential hopefuls – including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Ohio Governor John Kasich – have yet to formally throw their hats in the ring.