SWEETWATER, Fla. (AP) – Jeb Bush returned Monday to his South Florida political roots with a $25-a-person fundraiser for his political action committee, a contrast with recent private high-roller events.
The Republican former Florida governor appeared at the Right to Rise PAC event in a local community center wearing a white Cuban-style guayabera shirt and frequently shifted from English to Spanish. About 450 people attended in a heavily Hispanic suburb west of Miami, including Bush's wife Columba and son Jeb Jr. Neither of them addressed the crowd.
Bush has not yet officially declared his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination but has been raising money for the PAC. A recent two-day retreat at a swank Miami Beach hotel was closed to the press and open mainly to 300 invited, wealthy donors.
This event, meanwhile, was dubbed the "Miami Hometown Reception" and was held at a building named for Jorge Mas Canosa, a prominent Cuban-American exile leader. Former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart introduced Bush to the friendly crowd.
In his speech, Bush discussed familiar conservative themes such as lower taxes, immigration reform, fewer regulations and a more robust U.S. foreign policy. Bush also said that voters want political parties to cooperate in tackling issues.
"I know for a fact we need to start solving problems again in Washington, D.C.," Bush said. "This is going to be an extraordinary time, but first we have to fix these things."
Bush has headlined more than 60 fundraisers this year and claims he has already set a record for raising GOP cash. Right to Rise does not plan to release fundraising figures until July.
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