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Conservatives Heckle Jeb Bush On Education, Immigration
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Conservatives Heckle Jeb Bush On Education, Immigration

Politics

Conservatives Heckle Jeb Bush On Education, Immigration

Conservatives Heckle Jeb Bush On Education, Immigration
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Some Republicans have said that former Gov. Jeb Bush isn't conservative enough. This week he appeared before the Conservative Political Action Conference and made his case for a possible 2016 run.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Aspiring presidential hopefuls, Republicans have paraded before activists at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Outside of Washington, D.C. this week at the event, of course, it's known as CPAC, many of the thousands in attendance have been quick to say that one of the front runners in the field, Jeb Bush, is not necessarily their idea of a real conservative. Well, yesterday Mr. Bush went to CPAC. NPR's Don Gonyea was there.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: This is just one of many examples of what conservatives say about former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Yesterday at CPAC, radio host Laura Ingraham was lamenting all the early talk of Bush as the likely nominee.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

LAURA INGRAHAM: Think about - there's another way of looking at this. We could dispense with this whole nomination process all together, and Jeb and Hillary can run on the same ticket.

(LAUGHTER)

GONYEA: Then just a bit, later Fox News' Sean Hannity gauged audience reaction to the Republicans expected to run.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

SEAN HANNITY: Senator Ted Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

HANNITY: Senator Rand Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: Name after name on Hannity's list was greeted by cheering - some loud, some milder. Then, he gets to Bush.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPEECH)

HANNITY: By the way, Jeb Bush, any supporters?

(BOOING)

GONYEA: By early afternoon, Jeb Bush was on that very same stage. He didn't give a prepared speech. Instead, he opted to have Hannity interview him. Right off the bat, Bush addressed those earlier boos.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

JEB BUSH: Well, first of all, for those that made a ooh sound, is that what it was? I'm marking them down as neutral, and I want to be your second choice if I decide to go beyond this. But here's the record.

GONYEA: His record as Florida governor, Bush went on, is one any conservative should appreciate.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

BUSH: And it's a record that may be hard for people to imagine because it's a record of accomplishment, of getting things done, of taking conservative principles - running on them, for starters - and having the courage to say, I was for a statewide voucher program, that I believed that we should cut spending, that we needed to take on the trial bar and all the things that we did.

GONYEA: But the reason so many CPAC attendees booed Bush earlier, and sometimes even as he spoke, is that he supports the so-called Common Core education standards and they see him as soft on immigration. Here's Hannity.

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

HANNITY: You supported driver's licenses for illegal immigrants and you supported in-state tuition prices for those children of illegal immigrants that weren't citizens.

(BOOING)

HANNITY: Wait a minute - hang on.

GONYEA: Bush countered that he'd written a book about it two years ago, called "Immigration Wars."

(SOUNDBITE OF INTERVIEW)

BUSH: And in that book, I talk about first and foremost the need to enforce the borders. A great country needs to enforce borders for national security purposes, public health purposes and the rule of law. First and foremost, we have to do that.

(APPLAUSE)

GONYEA: You may have noticed in that answer some cheers. They came from a very large group of Jeb Bush supporters in the hall, some filling the aisles and standing room sections of the giant ballroom. They were evidence of the formidable organization that the Bush campaign has even before there is an official campaign. For every moment of booing, they countered with cheers. It made for a rowdy, electric atmosphere, helping Bush make it through unscathed, though it's far too early to say what this day could mean in the long fight for the GOP nomination. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington.

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