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Jeb Bush: "I Will Run With Heart And I Will Run To Win"

Alex Gonzalez

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ended the worst-kept secret in Florida politics Monday: He’s running for president.

Bush has maintained a will-he-or-won’t-he flirtation with officially entering the Republican 2016 field since he announced he was "actively exploring" a bid six months ago.

But he knew he wasn’t fooling anyone -- and jumped into the race just two minutes into his speech at Miami Dade College's Kendall campus.
The nation's largest college “is just the place to be in the campaign that begins today," Bush said.

The location is symbolic: Education is one of Bush’s strongest issues.

Also symbolic was the Latin culture intertwined throughout the announcement.

The campaign handed out signs in English -- "All In 4 Jeb" -- and Spanish -- "Todos Por Jeb" -- to supporters. And the three daughters of Cuban-American musical legend Willy Chirino performed.

Barbara Johnson said she thought Bush would make a good president.

"I like the man. We need leadership. We have no leadership," said Johnson, who said she is Latina. "He was a good governor. I think he communicates also with minorities."

Bush enters the race having raised tens of millions of dollars -- enough to outspend most opponents on advertising. He also has a national reputation and plenty of name recognition.

His speech straddled two tones.

Credit Alex Gonzalez / WLRN
Anna Jacobson, a longtime Bush supporter, sells T-shirts and buttons Wednesday at Miami Dade College's Kendall campus. She has worked on past Bush campaigns

The first: Bush as the hopeful optimist, who is ready to listen.

“I will campaign as I would serve. Going everywhere. Speaking to everyone. Keeping my word," Bush said. "I will take nothing and no one for granted. I will run with heart and I will run to win.”

The second: the competent, forceful executive who will get things done. Bush channeled Elvis, arguing the the country needs a little less conversation and a little more action from its president.

That included two campaign promises.

“So many challenges could be overcome if we could just get this economy growing at full strength," Bush said. There’s not a reason in the world why we can not grow at a rate of 4 percent a year. And that will be my goal as president.”

Bush also pledged to take on federal rules and dial back restrictions on business and trade.

“Federal regulation has gone far past the consent of the governed," he said. "It is time to start making rules for the rule-makers.”

Bush’s speech didn’t mention immigration, but protesters briefly interrupted his announcement.

They want citizenship, not just the ability to stay in the U.S.

Bush says if he’s elected, he’ll push Congress for “meaningful” changes to solve those complaints.

Credit Alex Gonzalez / WLRN
Anna Jacobson sells buttons at the Jeb Bush rally in Miami Dade College's Kendall campus on Wednesday. She is a longtime supporter of the Bushes.

Though standing beneath campaign signs proclaiming just "Jeb!" Bush acknowledged the challenge of his last name. He's the son of one president, George H.W. Bush, and the brother of another, George W. Bush.

Polls have shown some Republican voters don't want another Bush presidency.

"Not one of us deserves the job by right of resume, party, family or family narrative," he said. "It's nobody's turn. It's everybody's test. And it's wide open."

Bush enters a crowded Republican field but has a national name and tens of millions to back his campaign.

The Miami resident joins U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio as the second South Floridian seeking the 2016 nomination.

Ten candidates have already announced they’re running as Republicans. More could join the field soon.

Despite his money and name recognition, polls show Bush is struggling to build support among Republicans. The Cook Political Report recently argued Bush has slipped from front-runner to underdog.

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