Two days before Jeb Bush formally launches his presidential campaign, he sketched out the candidate he hopes to be as he finished a tour of three European capitals on Saturday.
“I want to be authentic and genuine. I’m going to be who I am. I’m not going to change who I am,” Bush told reporters after receiving a briefing on this tiny nation’s thriving tech economy.
“I’m not going to change my views because today someone has a view that’s different. I think candidates have a duty to persuade,” Bush said. “That’s what this is about. It’s about the power of ideas and then giving people the sense that you have the leadership skills to actually make it so.”
The day before, Bush indicated that his message when he announces his presidential bid at a community college in Miami on Monday will be hopeful in tone and focus on his tenure as a two-term governor of Florida.
“I had the opportunity to be governor of a state where a lot of things happened. Some people liked it, some people didn’t. But the needle moved,” Bush said Friday. “There’s no question that if you ask friend and foe alike, Florida changed by my leadership, and I think it changed for the better.”
Estonia was the final stop of Bush’s five-day overseas trip, following tours of Berlin and Warsaw. Since arriving in Tallinn on Friday, Bush had dinner at the presidential palace with Estonian President Toomas Ilves, met with Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and Foreign Affairs Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, attended briefings on cybersecurity and the technology economy, and had roundtable discussions with leaders of the Baltic nations.
In these settings, Bush displayed characteristics that his advisors hope will resonate with voters and distinguish him among his GOP rivals – a steady leader comfortable talking about foreign affairs in a sophisticated and nuanced manner.
“It shows really what type of person he is. He’s extremely well-read, he’s well-traveled, he’s thoughtful, he questions, he absorbs, he pulls it together. Look, that’s what makes him an attractive individual to me,” said a former American ambassador who accompanied Bush on the trip who didn’t want to be identified discussing the campaign. “This is someone you’re not bringing him up to speed. You’re fine-tuning, you’re discussing, you’re tossing ideas around.”
Bush, for his part, demurred when asked what he hoped voters saw in his presentation overseas.
“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve met a lot of really interesting people,” Bush said. “I’ll let people be the judge of the trip from their perspective. From my perspective, it was a spectacular trip.”
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