Bush personally responds to hundreds of constituent emails and personally answering job applicants
He also takes a casual approach with plenty of smileys and expressions like "chill out" and "my bad"
The emails also show he's remained consistent on Cuba, and isn't a big campaign finance reform advocate
And the emails give some insight into the conservative backlash he could face in a 2016 GOP primary
A trove of emails from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s time in Tallahassee reveal a hands-on chief executive who was a prolific Blackberry user.
Bush, who is considering a 2016 presidential run, planned on releasing the tens of thousands of emails next month. But the Washington Post got out ahead of him, obtaining the emails through a public records request and publishing them late Tuesday.
While Bush was clearly aware that the emails could go public one day, the notes offer an insider’s perspective on Bush’s time in office and his dealings on issues ranging from land disputes to funding for a military base in Florida and the state’s citrus industry.
Here are the top 5 takeaways:
1. A personal touch
Bush exchanged emails with hundreds of constituents sharing their advice and concerns on specific issues – with such high-level discussions even including a quick reply to a woman asking for the date of his wife’s birthday.
Bush even personally responded to job applicants, revealing what the Washington Post called an “intense, detail-oriented engagement” as governor. On one of his top issues, for example, Bush received a “daily immigration update.”
2. “Awesome” emails
The former governor also took a casual approach in his emails, which he peppered with words like “my bad,” “chill out” and “awesome.”
And Bush was also apparently a big believer in the power of the smiley face.
As staffers exchanged emails about vacation time, Bush suggested that “you guys h that you guys have a verbal conversation about it rather than create a public document. :)”
But he also used them to reply to angry emails, like when one man wrote him that “politicians make me sick, you make me sick.”
“I am truly sorry you feel that way. Have a nice day,” Bush said, throwing in a smiley face.
Bush slammed President Barack Obama’s decision last week to normalize relations with Cuba, and it’s clear from the emails that he’s remained consistent on that issue.
In a 1999 email, Bush pledged to stand for a tough policy on the island, telling then-Rep. Lincoln Diaz Balart that “forceful diplomacy can make a difference.”
That stance hasn’t kept Sen. Marco Rubio, a Bush mentee and potential 2016 foe, from stealing the spotlight last week as he jumped in front of the cameras to become the GOP’s leading voice on opposing Obama’s engagement with the Cuban regime.
4. Campaign finance reform – and a brother’s shadow
One email exchange with a top GOP donor, Al Hoffman, gives a candid glimpse at Bush’s stance on campaign finance laws.
In the email, Hoffman encourages Bush to support a campaign finance reform law working its way through the Florida legislature, but the governor balks, explaining that he’s only in favor of “campaign finance reform that doesn’t put us at a disadvantage.” And the bill in question, “would do just that,” Bush wrote.
The exchange also reveals an interesting angle the GOP donor uses as he looks to secure the governor’s support.
“Your brother thinks it’s the right thing to do,” Hoffman writes.
5. Conservative criticism
Lauded by many in the GOP establishment as a smart, fiscally conservative governor who delivered economic gains for his state, the emails also reveal a challenge from the party’s most conservative members that Bush is likely to face in an eventual GOP presidential primary.
He received one email branding him as “NO CONSERVATIVE” and regularly took flak from activists who wanted more right-leaning policies out of the governor’s mansion, according to the Post.
One pro-life activist attacks Bush in an email for appointing a lawyer who represented the owner of an abortion clinic.