Let there be no doubt: Jeb Bush loves e-mail.
While he says he's cutting back as he runs for president, Bush spent 25 to 30 hours a week sending and answering e-mails during his two terms as Florida governor. That meant fielding messages from aides and reporters or from constituents questioning or criticizing his management of natural disasters, the presidency of his older brother and home state subjects, including the fate of manatees.
From 1999 to 2007, Bush regularly encouraged Floridians to e-mail his personal account: Jeb@jeb.org. On the campaign trail, he still gives out the address, but has said he's cutting back on using e-mail while he campaigns.
Bush released hundreds of thousands of self-selected messages and published them on a Web site earlier this year as his campaign began, essentially goading his rivals in both parties to do the same. But so far, nobody else has so publicly released the remnants of their inbox.
Now, Bush is going a step farther by compiling some of his most memorable exchanges in a new e-book, entitled "Reply All," a memoir that goes on sale in October.
The book is set to highlight Bush's attempts to revamp Florida's education system; his decision to veto more than 2,500 individual spending items; and his fights with the state's trial lawyers lobby, among others, according to aides.
Those aides released a key chapter on Tuesday night to The Washington Post and other news outlets. Based on the excerpts, the book appears to be a raw, chronological recap of e-mails Bush sent and received. The tome is devoid of colorful prose and mostly a workmanlike review of key moments followed by the transcripts of e-mails.
The chapter released Tuesday night, entitled "We will prevail," covers 2004, a critical year in Bush's tenure. Four major hurricanes hit Florida in an unprecedented wave of deadly tropical weather, while he tussled with state and federal courts over the fate of Terri Schiavo.
Bush earned wide praise for his leadership of Florida during the deadly 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons -- a part of his governorship that he plans to begin touting more frequently on the campaign trail. On Wednesday, he will campaign in Pensacola, Fla., a city hit by several of the storms.
“We made a difference,” Bush said in a recent interview with The Washington Post about his experience with natural disasters. “And we got better as it went along. Every time there was a problem you can’t anticipate.”
A review of e-mails Bush sent in 2004 and 2005 shows how closely he was tracking storms and the distribution of aid in their aftermath. Meteorologists from the National Hurricane Center sent regular forecast updates. Highway officials e-mailed him asking to suspend tolls to ease congestion as residents evacuated. Priests asked for help with food banks. Hundreds of Floridians sent unsolicited advice and criticism.
Many of those hurricane-themed e-mails are in the book, but Bush also highlights several laudatory messages from everyday Floridians.
Barbara Czipri wrote him in late Sept. 2004 and said: "I have to be perfectly honest and tell you upfront that I have never been a great fan of yours, but your leadership during this hurricane season has been EXACTLY what Floridians need."
Noting that Bush gave regular televised news conferences during major hurricanes, she added: "Every day when I see you at the 9 a.m. conference on TV, I wish that I could reach through the screen to give you a BIG hug. I’m sure you could use a lot of them about now."
"Thank you so much for your kind words," Bush replied. "I really, really appreciate the sentiments expressed. This has been an emotional time for all of us. I have been truly inspired by people’s patience, courage and resolve and
I have been so saddened by the suffering of so many."
Amid the destruction of hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004, the Florida Supreme Court also ruled against Bush's ongoing attempts to keep Schiavo alive.
Diagnosed as in a persistent vegetative state, Schiavo, 41, died in April 2005 after a 15-year battle over her husband Michael's decision to remove her feeding tube. Her parents, Robert and Mary Schindler, fought to keep her alive, a move that prompted Bush, the Florida legislature and Congress to pass laws intervening on their behalf.
Bush's book includes an e-mail from Schiavo's brother, Bobby Schindler, who wrote after the Florida court's decision to order the removal of feeding tubes.
"I know that many in the media have been unfair and mean-spirited with what they are writing and saying, but throughout it all you have remained loyal with trying to get Terri back home where she belongs -- with my mom and dad," he wrote to Bush.
"Thank you Bobby. What are your next steps," Bush asked Schindler in a one-line reply.
The Florida court decision ultimately led to federal decisions that ordered the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube.
Earlier in 2004, a gay friend had contacted Bush when then-President George W. Bush announced support for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman.
"Today, I am feeling particularly denied and particularly unequal," the friend, Xavier Cortada, wrote Bush.
He reminded the governor of his eight-year relationship with his "life partner," Juan Carlos, and said: "I feel suffocated -- living in a society where liberty evaporates with every attack on people who happen to be gay — and I see it can only get worse as this debate rages on."
Bush waited more than a month to reply, citing a busy schedule and began his note by saying: "I am sensitive to your point of view but respectfully disagree."
"Your relationship with Juan Carlos can be made more permanent through contractual obligations that set forth asset disposition and other issues," he wrote later. "However, I don’t believe that your relationship should be afforded the same status in the law as a man and a woman agreeing to marraige [sic]."
Bush concluded: "We can discuss this if you like and again, I am expressing my opinion with the respect that you deserve."
Among the more obscure issues Bush tackled was the fate of manatees. In an effort to protect the mammals that had fallen victim to speedboats, Bush tweaked state policy and several livid boaters complained.
"Someone told me the other day that JEB, stands for. Just End Boating!" wrote one angry man. "Is this true? If so go back to Texas, with this mentality! Florida is boater country! Love it or Leave it!"
"Wow," Bush replied. "Have a wonderful easter!"
Amazon, the sole distributor of Bush's e-book, began taking pre-orders of "Reply All" on Tuesday night in advance of an Oct. 30 release.
The founder of Amazon, Jeffrey Bezos, owns The Washington Post.