In a wide-ranging discussion of policy issues, former Florida governor Jeb Bush addressed a sold-out venue at Regent University’s inaugural Presidential Candidate Forum on Friday, October 23.
About 700 guests and several national news outlets attended the event, which featured comments from Bush, a live interview with Regent Chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, and an audience Q & A moderated by Dr. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
“Bringing presidential candidates to the university is our opportunity to take a leadership role in engaging the community and our students in the election process. With our history of hosting events such as ‘Clash of the Titans,’ Regent has a tradition of bringing together differing voices from across the political spectrum,” said Ann LeBlanc, vice president of Regent’s Office of Advancement. “This forum provides an excellent place for the critical issues facing our nation today to be discussed.”
The Presidential Candidate Forums are a special series of events offered under Regent’s popular Executive Leadership Series (ELS) program. The forums will provide candidates the opportunity to share their campaign platforms in a balanced, non-debate format. Regent does not support or oppose any candidate, and presidential candidates from both parties have been extended invitations to participate in future Presidential Candidate Forums.
In his opening remarks, Bush spoke of his faith-journey and the debate about whether people who practice faith should act on their convictions in the public square.
“I, for one, believe that people of faith should act on their faith,” said Bush. “It has given me a comfort that I cannot describe and a serenity that has made my life a lot simpler.”
Bush made mention of the threat of religious freedom in the nation today, and vouched for a nation that doesn’t revolve around decisions made in Washington, D.C., but shifting power back to the nation’s people. He said that he aims to create a safe and secure world with a “stop talking and start acting” approach.
“I know America’s brightest days are ahead of us,” said Bush. “We’re on the verge of the greatest time to be alive.”
The interview between Bush and Robertson focused on issues of religious freedom, the current political climate in Syria, and Bush’s tax plan – which would “balance the tilt from Wall Street to ‘Main Street,'” raise the age for retirement to the age 67, and eliminate the marriage penalty.
Robertson asked a question on the minds of many who are following the campaign’s progress, regarding news reports earlier Friday about funding and staff cuts. Bush assured the audience that this was nothing but his campaign’s ability to adapt and to be “lean and mean for the future.”
Following the interview, Sekulow offered questions from the audience regarding bringing back manufacturing jobs in the U.S., making higher education more affordable for students and focusing on the family to eliminate the “sticky” poverty that 6 million people find themselves in today.
Bush, who served as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007, announced his candidacy on June 15, 2015. He is the son of President George H.W. and first lady Barbara Bush, and a younger brother of President George W. Bush.
The candidate forum marked Bush’s second visit to the Regent campus. In 2007 he participated as a panelist for Regent’s Clash of the Titans, discussing the topic, “Should America Bring Democracy to the World.”
Learn more about Regent’s Presidential Candidate Forums.