* He's worried about Rubio. State Sen. Don Gaetz was one of roughly 100 people (more on that later) who took part in the official program at the event. And he was by far the most pointed in his remarks -- at one point saying that "Jeb Bush is the Florida Republican who can win." Who, oh who, else could he be referring to? Bush himself took a more veiled -- but no less carefully aimed -- shot at Rubio by declaring that "there’s no passing off responsibility when you’re a governor, no blending into the legislative crowd or filing an amendment and calling that success." At another point, Jeb sought to distinguish himself from the field by insisting, "I was a reforming governor, not just another member of the club."
There's little question that the rise of Rubio in the race has caught the Bush folks by surprise. What's clear going forward is that Jeb and his team won't be shy about going after Rubio to ensure he rises no further.
* This was a convention-level production. I spent about 90 minutes watching the event, and the longer it went on, the more it began to resemble a night at the Republican convention. Various people from Jeb's life spoke about the admirable aspects of his personality. Musicians performed. Short videos were played. On the one hand, the whole production was more professional and more polished than all of the announcements that had come before it -- up to and including Hillary Clinton's. That was impressive. On the other, the presentation felt, at times, like a little too much. For a guy pledging to fight to win every vote, the feel of the announcement speech was decidedly, well, big.
* Immigration was nonexistent except.... In Bush's prepared remarks, he never once uttered the word "immigration," "legal," "illegal" or "undocumented." As Jeb was introducing his mother, protesters stood up with shirts that spelled out: "Legal status is not enough."
In response, Bush pledged that as president he would reform the immigration system through means other than the executive orders President Obama has issued. It was probably his most impassioned moment of the speech but, it's important to remember, not one that was in the actual speech. Bush knows that he has trouble with the party's base when it comes to his support for comprehensive immigration reform, and he seemed set on leaving it out of today's speech until, that is, the protesters made that impossible.
* A VERY different face of the Republican Party. By my count, there was one white male (other than Jeb) who spoke as part of the official program. (It was Gaetz.) Women, Latinos and an African American pastor were all tasked with telling the story of Jeb Bush's life. And it wasn't just the people on stage.
It’s striking how diverse the crowd is at Jeb Bush’s announcement rally in Miami relative to most Republican events.— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) June 15, 2015
A number of the speakers -- including Bush himself -- spoke in Spanish.
While Bush spent no time in the speech itself talking about the need for new faces in the Republican Party, the symbolic message was clear: Not only do I believe we need to diversify as a party, but I am also a guy who has shown the ability to do that before.
* My favorite Jeb line. "Not a one of us deserves the job by right of resume, party, seniority, family or family narrative. It’s nobody’s turn. It’s everybody’s test, and it’s wide open -- exactly as a contest for president should be," he said toward the end of the speech. Given his background and biography, I'm not sure he can sell it, but he's in the right rhetorical space with that riff. The key for Jeb is to cast himself as just plain old "Jeb" -- a guy willing to mix it up with the thousands of others (slight exaggeration) running for president. The more he can tell and, more importantly, show people that he is willing to fight for the nomination, the better chance he has at winning it.
* My least favorite Jeb line. "Secretary Clinton insists that when the progressive agenda encounters religious beliefs to the contrary, those beliefs, quote, 'have to be changed.' That’s what she said, and I guess we should at least thank her for the warning." Okay, I get where he was going here, and the "I stand with the sisters" line that followed made it semi-palatable. But it felt too forced, and the "at least thank her for the warning" kicker fell almost totally flat.