KEN THOMAS,Associated Press
DALLAS (AP) — Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush urged the nation to change its immigration and education systems to ensure a robust American economy in remarks Wednesday before the World Affairs Council in Dallas. A suburb away, former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton was delivering her first paid speech since leaving the helm of the State Department earlier this year.
The dueling appearances came on the eve of the opening of George W. Bush’s presidential library, stoking speculation about each of their political futures. Both are considered strong White House contenders should each seek the presidency in 2016.
Both of their families were gathering for the library dedication on the campus of Southern Methodist University, an event that will put five living U.S. presidents, including President Barack Obama, on the same stage.
Presidential politics were close to the surface in Dallas Wednesday.
During a question-and-answer session, one man told Bush he had met him in Florida. “Hopefully I’ll meet you in Washington as the next president of the United States,” the man said.
Asked by another questioner whether he might run for president in 2016, Bush pointed to his son, George P. Bush, a candidate for statewide office in Texas. “To be honest, I’m focused on the land commissioner race in 2014,” Bush said with a smile.
Bush, who recently released a book promoting immigration changes, said the nation needed an agenda that would give Americans “the right to rise,” whether in entrepreneurial ventures, through restructuring immigration or educational policies that help children attain success. He urged Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline that would stretch from Canada to Texas and pointed to fellow Texan Lyndon B. Johnson as a president who cajoled and persuaded Congress to enact his agenda.
“We need people to get outside their comfort zones. We need leaders to have humility to find consensus and compromise. If we do that we’ll break the logjams in all sorts of areas of policies that right now don’t seem to be working, and this country will take off,” Bush said.
Meanwhile, Clinton was speaking during a private event to the National Multi-Housing Council’s board of directors, a trade group that represents the apartment building industry. Terms of Clinton’s compensation for the speech have not been disclosed, but it was expected to net six-figures.
Jim Lapides, a spokesman for the housing council, said the event was closed at the request of the former New York senator’s speakers’ group, the Harry Walker Agency, a common practice.
In recent speeches, Clinton has discussed ways of helping women and children flourish in developing nations but offered few hints about her political future. She is writing a book about her experiences as secretary of state, which will be released in June 2014.