Bush says ’16 announcement will tout his tenure in Fla.

Thomas Beaumont
Associated Press

Tallinn, Estonia — Jeb Bush on Friday previewed his announcement that he’s running for president, telling reporters that his upcoming speech in Miami will be “hopeful, optimistic” but will still point out what he sees as the need to change the nation’s course.

“It won’t dwell too much in the past. But it will talk about why it’s important that we change directions,” Bush said after meeting with the Estonian foreign minister and hearing a briefing on a NATO-backed cybersecurity project in the former Soviet state.

Bush said he’d been thinking about the speech before his weeklong trip to Europe, which included visits to Germany, Poland and Estonia. In recent weeks, the former Republican governor of Florida has sharpened his language about his own record, and indirectly jabbed at his would-be rivals by saying it’s easy to merely talk about solving problems.

“I had the opportunity to be governor of a state where a lot of things happened. Some people liked it and some people didn’t. But the needle was moved,” Bush said Friday. “Florida changed by my leadership. I think it changed for the better.”

Asked how he differs from Hillary Rodham Clinton, the heavy favorite for the Democratic nomination, Bush said there will be time to draw such distinctions but stopped short of offering any specifics.

Bush was sharply critical of Clinton last month in a speech to Republicans in Michigan, where he said Clinton had carried out President Barack Obama’s foreign policy as secretary of state, which he has blamed for the rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East and Russian aggression in the Ukraine.

“It’s her policies as well,” he said at a GOP dinner in Lansing. “And we will hold her to account.”

But a day before Clinton gives the first major speech of her campaign, and a few days before his own launch event, Bush was more measured.

“Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state for four years under President Obama and she has a record. It’s a record she’ll have to defend,” Bush said. “But there will be ample chances for me to show the differences between myself and Hillary Clinton.”

Bush departs Europe for the U.S. on Saturday afternoon. The son and brother of former presidents, he will declare his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination on Monday afternoon in Miami.