Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recites the Pledge of Allegiance before speaking at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, November 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. Bush was the opening speaker at the 2014 National Summit on Education Reform conference. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) offered a nuanced defense of the Common Core State Standards during a speech Thursday in Washington, trying to mend the divide within the GOP over the standards as he weighs a 2016 presidential bid.

“I respect those who have weighed in,” said Bush, who is in the minority among the GOP’s top-tier potential presidential candidates when it comes to support for the Common Core, a set of K-12 standards in reading and math that has been adopted by 43 states and the District of Columbia. “Nobody in this debate has a bad motive.”

Bush, 61, spoke at the annual summit of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, which he founded after leaving office in 2007 to promote his education agenda around the country.

Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) both back the Common Core standards, but opponents include Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R- Tex.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Jindal was once a strong supporter of the Common Core standards but now is fighting with his own state education leaders in an effort to drop them.

Jindal is also suing the Obama administration, claiming that the federal government coerced states to adopt the standards by making adoption of higher standards a requirement for states that wanted to compete for federal grants.

Among the general population, support for the Common Core standards has been mixed, according to several public opinion polls. Democrats tend to support them more than Republicans. Political strategists say if Bush can survive the GOP primary process, he could emerge a stronger candidate in the general election candidate if he stands by his education agenda.

Full story here.