Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will pitch himself as the candidate most ready to be commander in-chief on Wednesday, in a major foreign policy speech in South Carolina where he’ll vow to rebuild the military and destroy the Islamic State.
“This brutal savagery is a reminder of what is at stake in this election. We are choosing the leader of the free world. And if these attacks remind us of anything, it is that we are living in serious times that require serious leadership,” Bush plans to say. He’s already advocated for sending in U.S. troops to “defeat” ISIS, calling it the “war of our time.”
As part of a broad plan to bolster the military and grow international relations, Bush will call for ending sequestration – particularly its big military cuts – as well as growing the size of the military, adding 40,000 more Army soldiers and 4,000 Marines. He’ll vow to reform the Pentagon, reducing Washington-based officials in favor of more uniformed military, and replace dated military equipment.
It’s part of the candidate’s attempt to hit a reset and reboot his struggling campaign. As an experienced policy wonk, the renewed focus on national security after Friday’s terror attacks in Paris seems primed to give Bush an opportunity to wrest attention from Donald Trump and Ben Carson, both of whom have been leading in polls but have little foreign policy experience. Though it could also give American voters deja vu, as another Bush advocates for another ground war in the Middle East. And as Bush lead up to this speech with more and more foreign policy rhetoric on the trail, it hasn’t been smooth sailing.
When questions about the invasion of Iraq arose earlier this year, Bush floundered. Yesterday, asked about how he’d handle the influx of Syrian refugees, Bush struggled in multiple interviews to articulate his more moderate stance on how the country should handle Syrian refugees. First he said he opposed banning refugees’ arrival, but he walked his answer back hours later as the rest of his party maintains a nearly unanimous position on the issue – that amid evidence that one of last Friday’s terrorists had slipped into France as part of a flow of Syrian refugees, the flow of Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. must be pushed back.
Bush will speak at noon at South Carolina’s Citadel.