Jeb Bush, the Social Conservative

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush made his presence felt at the Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Washington D.C. last week, where a handful of presidential hopefuls intended to make a splash with their speeches.  While Politico’s reporting on the event highlighted Ted Cruz’s impressive reception with the conservative crowd, it was probably Bush’s speech that surprised the most given that many have been ‘preaching’ everywhere about his supposed lack of support among conservative audiences.

Contrary to those expecting a lack of support with crowds like the one gathered at the Faith and Freedom meeting, Bush connected very well with people who were attending, in great part because of his comments on his record and accomplishments as governor of Florida.  During his time in office, his faith and beliefs were tested on several occasions, and yet his actions were always guided by social conservative principles, especially on the issue of life.

Succinctly reviewing his record on abortion, Bloomberg summarized Bush’s conservatism on the issue:

In 2000, Bush signed measure to ban a late-term abortion procedure. In 2005 he enacted the Parental Notification Act, which mandates that doctors notify parents of a minor at least 48 hours prior to terminating a pregnancy.

The article also quoted a part of the governor’s speech at the D.C. forum in which he said:

“When I became governor I was shocked at the total lack of regulation of abortion clinics, and that parents had no legal role in their minor daughter’s abortion decision,” he said. “So what we did was we put regulations on abortion clinics. And we narrowed the number of them… I signed into law a partial birth abortion ban.” He said he also supported funding for crisis pregnancy centers.”

After his appearance at this forum and at the different campaign stops he has made since announcing his candidacy, Bush has demonstrated that his record is his best weapon to combat critics who brand him as too moderate or even liberal for GOP voters.  All the candidates can talk a lot about their morals, values and beliefs, but few can point to actual examples in which these have come into play while in public office.  When it comes to these issues, however, no one can credibly accuse Bush of not having governed as a social conservative.

Carlos Mercader is Deputy Director of American Principles in Action’s Latino Partnership.