Former Florida governor and likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush was in the Bay Area on Friday to give the keynote address at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in San Francisco.
Bush sounded very much like a contender for the White House Friday. He said his meeting on Thursday with Mitt Romney in Utah wasn't about politics, but Friday's event felt like it was.
Bush told the auto dealers he had three suggestions to sustain economic growth: A home-grown energy policy, a reformed immigration system and an overhaul of the nation's education system.
On energy, he said the first thing is to build the Keystone XL pipeline and embrace fracking. On immigration, he broke with some in his party syaing that undocumented immigrants already here should be allowed to stay, after paying a fine and moving to the back of the line.
Bush is aggressively exploring a possible White House run in 2016.
Bush on Thursday tapped former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to serve as chairman of his education foundation, turning over the organization to the former diplomat and academic who remains popular inside the Republican Party. Rice, a professor at Stanford University and partner in a consulting firm, has for the past two years served as a board member of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.
Bush formally left the foundation late last year, resigning as part of his preparations for a possible run for president in 2016. He also left the boards of several for-profit companies, including Tenet Healthcare Corp. and timber company Rayonier Inc.
Bush's foundation's worked with state legislatures and lobbied them to adopt what he called the "Florida formula,'' anchored by strict accountability measures for teachers and students. The measures included an A-through-F grading system for schools, private-school vouchers and ending so-called social promotion for third graders who fail reading tests.
Bush met Thursday in Utah with 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Aides said the meeting was planned well before Romney surprised many in the party with the news that is considering making a third run for president in 2016.
"I respect him a lot. I admire him a lot,'' Bush told KUTV as he arrived at the Salt Lake City airport. "He's a great American. I look forward to seeing him.''
The meeting drew laughs on Twitter from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, another likely 2016 contender, who joked online that Bush "apparently gave Mitt Romney a `third time's a charm' bracelet at their meeting in Utah today.''