(Ankeny, IA) The Polk County Republican Party held its Summer Sizzle with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as the keynote speaker. Approximately 500 attended the event held at Dennis Albaugh’s Classic Car Barn. Albaugh, one of the wealthiest men in Iowa who supports Bush, offered the site to the party as a venue for their annual summer event. Albaugh introduced Bush up to speak, then Bush, beginning his remarks, thanked Albaugh for his generosity for covering the expenses of the event.
Bush stickers were being given out, and Bush signs marked the driveway leading on the property that houses Albaugh’s classic car collection and private golf course off of I-35 on the north side of Ankeny.
“There are a lot of good people running, sixteen (there’s 17 major candidates when former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore announced last month) I believe at last count, but I believe I have the leadership skills to fix these things, to do it in a way where everybody has a chance to rise up,” Bush said. “I don’t know about you, but it breaks my heart that six million more people are living in poverty today than the day that Barack Obama got elected.”
Bush touted his record of tax cuts and using his line item veto power to make spending cuts. He joked his nickname was “Veto Corleone” because of how often he vetoed budget items. He also said he was equal opportunity vetoing items wanted by Democrats, as well as, items from Republicans.
“What we need is a person who can fix things, solve problems, can apply conservative principles the right way,” Bush added.
Bush touted his education reforms as governor in Florida. He said Florida ranked dead last in high school graduate rates when he came to office. “I came in and said we are going to put pressure on the system. We are going to grade schools A through F, no one knew before what the best schools were and the worst schools were. If the school was a A, you knew that school was going to be a lot better than a F. When that school was an F we created vouchers. We eliminated social promotion, this insidious policy in third grade where functionally illiterate kids going from third to fourth grade thinking that somehow they are going to learn how to read, and calculate math and all these things when they are functionally illiterate,” Bush said.
“We challenged the whole system. We created the first statewide voucher system, the second and the third. The net result was that we had the greatest learning gains than any of the 50 states, a 5o percent improvement in graduation rates, we cut the functional illiteracy rate in half. Florida’s fourth graders, by the way, a state with 57 percent free and reduced (lunch) qualified kids, many kids in poverty, do better than Iowa today. A state that used to lead the nation,” Bush noted.
Toward the end of his remarks Bush encourage those attending to caucus for him.
“I want your vote. I want your participation in the caucuses. Voting is kind of like the chicken in the breakfast experience. Attending the caucus is more like the pig. You are all in when you attend the caucus. I would love to have your involvement in the caucus on February 1st and get your friends and neighbors to do the same,” Bush stated.
Sherill Whisenand, co-chair of the Polk County Republican Party, told Caffeinated Thoughts that they appealed to all the candidates and the Bush campaign responded two weeks ago. Will Rogers, Chair of the Polk County Republicans, added no other candidate received an invitation after Bush accepted. Both Rogers and Whisenand pointed out that Dr. Ben Carson headlined last year’s summer picnic, and every candidate is welcome at party events.
In 2011, the Polk County Republican Party summer picnic held after the Iowa State Fair before the 2012 Iowa Caucus featured several presidential candidates including then Texas Governor Rick Perry, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) and Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and other campaigns had staff present to talk to prospective voters.
All proceeds from Thursday evening’s event went to the Polk County Republican Party.
Watch Bush’s full remarks below:
Bush also held a press avail after the event where he discussed his remarks in Davenport, IA on Thursday morning. He was asked to clarify his remarks supportive of enhanced interrogation. He was also pressed for more information about his plan to defeat ISIS. Watch below: