Jeb Bush: I Won't Dwell on the Past

Bush previews his presidential announcement speech while touring Estonia.

Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, speaks during a briefing at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia, on Friday.

Photographer: Peti Kollanyi (Bloomberg)

Republican Jeb Bush is preparing a speech for his presidential announcement on Monday that will lay out a broad, optimistic vision of the future while portraying himself as the candidate with the best portfolio to lead the country.

"It won't dwell too much on the past," Bush told reporters in Tallinn, Estonia on Friday after touring the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence. Some voters are reluctant to support Bush, the son and brother of the last two Republican presidents,  and elect a third member of his family to the White House.

Bush arrived Friday in Estonia, the last stop of a European tour. He's been accompanied by foreign affairs advisers, his wife, Columba, and campaign donor Woody Johnson, the  owner of the New York Jets. Bush, who also visited Germany and Poland this week, will dine with Estonian President Toomas Ilves on Friday. Before returning home to Miami on Saturday, Bush will visit the e-Estonia showroom, which highlights the country's digital successes.

The small country of about 1.3 million people is one of the most technologically advanced in the world. The pioneering Internet telephone service Skype was born here; it was the first country to have online voting in a national election, and its simple tax form can be submitted online. Bush has highlighted the country's simple tax process on campaign trail. He joked on Friday that he overestimated the time it took to file taxes in Estonia.

"I made a huge mistake back in the United States," Bush said. "I said that it takes five minutes to fill your tax form in Estonia. And it turns out it's only two minutes. So, I'm really sorry about that. I apologize for showing the lack of respect that Estonia deserves. Tell you what, it would be pretty nice in the United States to be able to fill out a tax return that quickly and that effectively."

Bush called the trip "a good listening and learning experience." He said in Warsaw on Thursday that speaking to foreign leaders in Central and Eastern Europe has reinforced many of his previously held views on economic growth and national security.  "We can’t be all things to all people, we can’t be the world’s policeman," he said Thursday. "But we can be clear and consistent and engaged, both politically and diplomatically and in terms of military."

On Friday, Bush repeated his call to accelerate permitting of liquefied natural gas projects in the United States as a way to spark economic growth back home and to provide more security in the Baltics.

"I think we need to, just for our own economic purposes, accelerate the permitting of LNG projects that have been very slow to get off the ground," Bush said. "And do whatever it takes to allow for that to happen at a far faster rate, so countries that are totally dependent upon sources of energy from Russia have an alternative source of supply that will help them with their security."

Asked about his speech on Monday, in which he'll formally announces his decision to enter the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Bush said he's been thinking about it during his foreign trip.

"The message will be, I hope, an optimistic one," Bush said. "It will talk about why it's important to change directions. It will talk a little bit about, hopefully, the leadership skills that are necessary to solve problems."

Bush suggested that he'll present himself as an antidote to the political gridlock in Washington.

"I had the opportunity to be governor of a state where a lot of things happened," Bush said. "Some people liked it, some people didn't, but the needles moved. There's no question—if you ask friend and foe alike—that Florida changed by my leadership. I think it changed for the better."

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