After a spectacular week of exhaustive coverage of the convention, the Tampa Bay Times took a different direction with its reporting about the Bush speech, focusing almost entirely on his well-worn education remarks and nearly burying Bush’s statement about Obama:
Former Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday used his first high-profile speaking slot at a Republican National Convention as a platform to discuss his favorite subject, calling the need for better schools “the great moral and economic issue of our time.”
Bush also bashed a favorite target, calling “politically powerful” teacher unions a roadblock to education reforms.
Delivering his first prime-time address to a political convention, Bush concentrated on the issue that marked his two terms as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and remains his top priority as head of a nonprofit foundation.
“The sad truth is that equality of opportunity doesn’t exist in many of our schools. We give some kids a chance, but not all,” Bush said. “We must stop prejudging children based on their race, ethnicity or household income. We must stop excusing failure in our schools and start rewarding improvement and success.”
During his years as governor, Bush pushed school choice, including taxpayer-financed vouchers that allowed some students to switch from low-performing public schools to private or religious schools. The program was struck down as unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court in 2006.
Reporter Steve Bousquet didn’t touch on Bush’s defense of his brother until the final paragraphs of his story:
Only once in his 15-minute appearance did Bush speak directly about President Barack Obama.
“Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies,” Bush said. “You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked. In the fourth year of your presidency, a real leader would accept responsibility for his actions and you haven’t done it.”
The line was not included in his prepared remarks.
Florida reporters and editors leave here exhausted. Most of them should also leave here proud of the work they did for their readers and viewers.