Even Moderate Bush Endorsee Publicly Distances Himself from Jeb on Common Core

September, 2014

More evidence that conservative support for a presidential run by Jeb Bush and winning the Republican nomination in general would be very difficult because of Common Core emerged from North Carolina this week. 

Although one can question how sincere he was in calling out Common Core in the primary, given backing by ardent Common Core supporters Bush, Karl Rove, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Rove's PAC, we had previously reported that now Republican nominee Thom Tillis had done exactly that in order to win the primary:

On Common Core, Tillis said recently in a Senate debate that he supports a repeal of the national education standards, which are loathed by some conservatives who consider them an intrusion into local decision-making.

Now, even though he won the primary, Tillis is behind in a very tight race with incumbent Democrat Kay Hagen.  Understanding how important it is going to be to rally the conservative base, Tillis, despite the endorsement, funding, and campaigning by Bush, was willing to publicly distance himself from Bush on Common Core during a campaign event where he was present.  The New York Times' Johnathan Martin described it this way:

But as Mr. Bush made the case for an immigration overhaul and the Common Core standards, Mr. Tillis gently put distance between himself and his guest of honor, who had flown here from Florida on a dreary day to offer his endorsement in a race that could decide which party controls the Senate...

...On the Common Core, the educational standards first devised by a bipartisan group of governors, which have become deeply unpopular among conservative activists, Mr. Tillis also sounded far more conservative than Mr. Bush. The North Carolina House approved the standards in 2011, but, facing primary challengers from the right earlier this year, Mr. Tillis backed away from them.

"I'm not willing to settle just for a national standard if we think we can find things to set a new standard and a best practice," Mr. Tillis said, pivoting to an attack on the federal Education Department as "a bureaucracy of 5,000 people in Washington" who make an average salary of a little more than $100,000.

While criticizing the Education Department is common among Republicans, Mr. Tillis was standing next to the younger brother of President George W. Bush, whose signature accomplishments include No Child Left Behind, the sweeping federal education law run by the department.

Jeff Henderson
of Sunshine State News wrote this about the same event:

During his trip to North Carolina, Bush weighed in on two issues conservatives are currently engaged on: Common Core and immigration. On both of those issues, Bush and conservatives hold very different opinions. No nationally prominent Republican has backed Common Core  as much as Bush has while conservatives are increasingly critical of those educational standards. Much of Bush's national reputation is based on his education record. Education has also been Bush's top priority since leaving office. But it's an issue that could come back to haunt him in 2016 as he continues to champion Common Core and conservatives are still unhappy about No Child Left Behind which has George W. Bush's fingerprints all over it.

We believe that if Bush's endorsees are forced to publicly distance themselves from him in his presence at campaign events over the very important issues of Common Core and immigration, Bush is in real trouble.  Both Martin and Henderson agree that a presidential run will be very problematic for him with conservatives.  Here is Henderson's assessment:

Even as Republican candidates welcome Bush's assistance in helping their campaigns raise funds, they're not exactly on board with him on some of the issues conservatives care the most about. That's not a good sign if Jeb Bush wants to follow his father and his brother to the White House in 2016.

Hopefully, the former governor will listen both to his family and to the Republican base and not divide the party over these critical issues, giving America more echoes instead of choices and pale pastels instead of bold colors on educational freedom.  The last thing that the United States needs is another president who increases the already gargantuan footprint of the federal government in an area in which it is not constitutionally authorized to be involved, and that follows in the footsteps of his father, George HW Bush, as well as Presidents Clinton, his brother George W. Bush, and Obama. Each of these presidents did much to weaken state sovereignty, local, and parental control over education, to the point that they are on life support now with Common Core.  Jeb Bush would preside over their funeral.

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