CHICAGO - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will declare "I am my own man" during a national security speech in Chicago on Wednesday, his first major address on world affairs as a presidential candidate in waiting -- and first serious public grappling with the legacies of the Bush presidents who came before.
"My views will often be held up in comparison to theirs – sometimes in contrast to theirs," Bush will say, according to excerpts released by his Right to Rise PAC. "I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man – and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences." Bush is making the remarks in an address to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Wednesday morning.
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Bush has moved quickly and aggressively to raise millions of dollars and lock down his party's top donors, even as as many as a dozen other Republicans are trying to compete with him for the GOP nomination. Bush has also started hiring a political team that would form the basis of a presidential campaign. And he's risen in some polls in early presidential primary states.
But Bush has yet to face questions from voters whose most recent memory of a Bush presidency rooted in a deeply unpopular war in Iraq.
"Each president learns from those who came before – their principles, their adjustments," Jeb Bush will say on Wednesday. The Bush name has been burnished somewhat since George W. Bush left office in 2008. As President Barack Obama was inaugurated, about 61 percent of Americans held a negative view of his predecessor, according to Gallup. It's been climbing since then--but it took until 2013 before the Gallup survey showed George W. Bush's approval rating back above 50 percent.
Those ratings could help explain why his brother is facing an electorate that already holds negative views of him. An NBC News/Marist poll last month showed just 19 percent of Americans viewed Jeb Bush favorably--compared to 32 percent who view him in a negative light.
"One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world and changing circumstances," Bush will say in his Chicago speech.
The excerpts suggest the address will largely be an indictment of President Obama's leadership in global affairs.
"The great irony of the Obama Presidency is this: Someone who came to office promising greater engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world," Bush will say.