Jeb Bush's e-book about his tenure as governor goes on pre-sale at Amazon at midnight, and his campaign shared a chapter from 2004 – a year dominated by hurricanes that profoundly tested the state and Bush's leadership skills.
"Eleven years later it still does not seem possible that four major storms slammed into our state in six weeks. They did, though, and we got through it," Bush writes in Reply All, which draws on hundreds of thousands of emails to and from Bush from officials and ordinary people.
Bush's handling of the hurricanes drew widespread praise and he intends to highlight it during a town hall tomorrow in Pensacola.
The book includes emails Floridians sent to Jeb, including one from a Democrat who began by saying she had never been a fan but was struck by Bush's leadership.
"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," the woman wrote on Sept. 24, 2004. "I'm sure you could use a lot of them about now. One thing that we have very much in common is our love for this state and the wonderful people who live here."
Bush replied. "Thank you so much for your kind words. 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. Again, I appreciate the virtual hug. Jeb Bush"
He lists statistics and figures and how relief money came from all over the U.S. and the world. " The smallest donation was from a little girl who emptied her piggy bank and sent seventy cents. It counted as much as the generous corporations who sent us millions. All these years later, I am still grateful."
"As any Floridian would tell you, though, it is not the statistics we remembered at the end of the day but the stories of courage, generosity, and perseverance. All these years later, I wish I had kept a journal to document all that happened during those six weeks. Many of the memories are seared into my brain, though."
Bush had to deal with other major issues in 2004, among them the growing saga over Terri Schiavo, and he shares an exchange with Schiavo's brother.
Subject: My sister Terri
Friday, September 24, 2004 2:54 p.m.
From: Bobby Schindler
I wish yesterday's decision would have been different, nonetheless, I wanted you to know how grateful I am for all that you have done to try and save my sister, Terri's, life. My family will be forever indebted to you for the courage it took for you to intervene to help.
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.
Hopefully, because of your efforts defending Terri's law our family may now have an opportunity to be in a better position to save my sister's life.
Again, thank you Governor, you and your family will remain in my constant prayers.
Subject: Re: My sister Terri
Friday, September 24, 2004 3:11 p.m.
From: Jeb Bush
Thank you Bobby. What are your next steps.