Associated Press

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Jeb Bush will offer a “hopeful, optimistic” vision for America while jabbing his Washington-based competition in both parties during Monday’s presidential announcement speech, said the former Florida governor and aides preparing for the Miami campaign kickoff.

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

The Republican presidential contender said he’d been thinking about the speech before his weeklong trip to Europe, during which he’s visited Germany, Poland and Estonia. In recent weeks, he has sharpened his rhetoric about his own record and indirectly swiped at 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,” Bush said Friday. “Some people liked it and some people didn’t. But the needle was moved.”

He said: “Florida changed by my leadership. I think it changed for the better.”

An adviser said Bush would also make the case that those involved in creating Washington’s problems can’t fix them. That meant the Republican senators — one of them Bush’s political protege in Florida, Marco Rubio — who are also seeking the presidential nomination.

The adviser spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the speech.

The location of Monday’s event, Miami Dade College, was also designed to highlight Bush’s desire to attract a broad coalition of voters. The Miami-based college claims a culturally and economically diverse student body numbering more than 165,000.

The adviser said Bush would highlight his commitment to all Americans, including the most vulnerable.

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 faulted her for carrying out a foreign policy as secretary of state that he has blamed for the rise of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and Russian aggression in Ukraine.

“It’s her policies as well,” he said then, meaning not just President Barack Obama’s. “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,” he said. “It’s a record she’ll have to defend. But there will be ample chances for me to show the differences between myself and Hillary Clinton.”

Bush leaves Europe for the U.S. on Saturday afternoon.


Associates Press writer Steve Peoples in Park City, Utah, contributed to this report. Follow Thomas Beaumont on Twitter at:

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox