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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush avoids 2016 talk in favor of immigration and bipartisanship at Saint Leo



Jeb Bush wouldn't say Wednesday night whether or not he's likely to run for president in 2016, but at Saint Leo University he did suggest a surprising role model for the sort of president he'd strive to be: Lyndon Johnson.

No, the conservative former Florida governor didn't hail Johnson's Great Society initiatives. Instead, he hailed Johnson's forceful, hands-on leadership that among other things produced a 25 percent across-the-board income tax cut.

"He went and he cajoled, he begged, he threatened, he loved, he hugged, he did what leaders do, which is they personally get engaged to make something happen,'' said Bush, who recently read Robert Caro's latest Johnson biography.

Bush's homage to Johnson before several hundred people at the Pasco County campus was one of his only shots at President Barack Obama, who has earned a reputation for avoiding hands-on negotiating with congressional leaders.

"I saw an unnamed person in the White House about a month ago say, 'You know, Lincoln would have had a hard time in the climate we're in today, with the Republicans being so intractable,' " Bush said. "Really? You're comparing what we have today to a civil war? Really?"

Story from Times political editor Adam C. Smith here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 10:50pm]


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