Bush is scheduled to speak at midday Wednesday before nearly 800 people at an event hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a nonpartisan think tank that is home to several veterans of previous presidential administrations.
He is expected to embrace the legacies of his father, George H. W. Bush and his brother, George W. Bush, by saying that he has been "lucky" to have family members "who both have shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office."
"I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs’— sometimes in contrast to theirs’," he will add, according to prepared remarks provided by his aides in advance. "I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man — and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences. Each president learns from those who came before — their principles … their adjustments. One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world … and changing circumstances."
But as he prepares to launch a presidential campaign, Bush will be relying on at least 21 veteran foreign policy and diplomatic experts, including former secretaries of homeland security and state, former CIA directors and national security advisers.
The list includes two former secretaries of homeland security, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, who worked for George W. Bush; two former secretaries of state, James Baker and George Shultz, who served under George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan; two former CIA directors, Porter Goss and Michael Hayden, who also served during the second Bush presidency; and former attorney general Michael Mukasey.
Others on the list include two former World Bank presidents, Robert Zoellick and Paul Wolfowitz. There's also John Negroponte, a former United Nations ambassador and the first director of national intelligence; Stephen Hadley, who was George W. Bush's national security adviser; and Meghan O'Sullivan, who worked with Hadley and Bush on the second Iraq war.
As The Washington Post first reported on Tuesday, many conservatives are "waiting to see how [Bush] splits the difference between what he perceives — or what his advisers perceive — to be the pluses and minuses of his father’s and brother’s administrations," said Gary J. Schmitt, a former Reagan administration official now with the American Enterprise Institute.
In his remarks on Wednesday, aides say Bush is expected to broadly outline his views on global affairs, delivering a message similar to one he delivered in December when he addressed the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC in Miami — a group strongly opposed to Obama's proposed changes in U.S.-Cuba relations. But he also plans to take questions from the audience, which could prompt more candid responses from a candidate-in-waiting who has spent most of his time in recent weeks meeting with campaign donors behind closed doors and not engaging people in public.
In his speech, Bush is expected to address why American leadership "is more necessary than ever. American leadership projected consistently and grounded in principle has been a benefit to the world."
"I have doubts whether this administration believes American power is such a force," he will say, according to prepared remarks. "Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust and the confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies."
"The great irony of the Obama Presidency is this: Someone who came to office promising greater engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world," Bush will say.
Those comments generally mirror typical Republican critiques of Obama's foreign policy. Bush is also expected to call for renewed engagement with traditional global alliances, including NATO and European allies. In his December address, he blasted Obama for failing to cultivate such relationships, leading to what he considers a diminished U.S. role in Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
Bush will also be advised on foreign affairs by Otto Reich, a former ambassador to Venezuela; Paula Dobriansky, a former undersecretary of state; Kristen Silverberg, a former U.S. ambassador to the European Union; former Florida Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a fierce opponent of President Obama's Cuba policy. Others joining the group are Kenneth Juster, a former senior official at the departments of Commerce and State; Robert Natter, a former Naval commander of the U.S. Atlantic fleet; Roger Noriega, a former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemispheric Affairs; and Pierre Prosper, a former U.S. ambassador at large for War Crimes.
Here are more excerpts as provided by Bush aides in advance of his speech:
The United States has an undiminished ability to shape events and build alliances of free people.We can project power and enforce peaceful stability in far-off areas of the globe.To do so, I believe we need to root our foreign policy in a set of priorities and principles.…I also have been lucky to have a father and a brother who both have shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office.I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs’ — sometimes in contrast to theirs’.I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make.But I am my own man — and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.Each president learns from those who came before — their principles … their adjustments.One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world … and changing circumstances.…The transformation of our economy will also send a powerful message about the American system:Free people, free markets, free ideas … implemented faithfully… will set a powerful example of what’s possible to the rest of the world.…Our words and our actions must match — so that the entire world knows we say what we mean and mean what we say.The Administration talks, but the words face.They draw red lines … then erase them.With grandiosity, they announce resets and disengage.Hashtag campaigns replace actual diplomacy and engagement.Personal diplomacy and maturity is replaced by leaks and personal disparagement:…The President’s word needs to be backed by the greatest military power in the world. … The president should call on leaders of both parties to fix the budget and address the shortfalls in our defense spending.He should show leadership — and commitment to solving the problem.…Having a military that is equal to any threat is not only essential for the commander in chief … it also makes it less likely that we will need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.Because I believe, fundamentally, that weakness invites war … and strength encourages peace.…The threats of the 21st century will not be the same as the threats of the 20th … and it is critical that we adapt to meet this challenge.…America does not have the luxury of withdrawing from the world — our security, our prosperity and our values demand that we remain engaged and involved in often distant places.We have no reason to apologize for our leadership and our interest in serving the cause of global security, global peace and human freedom.