Back when Jeb Bush first ran for governor of Florida in 1994 he branded himself as a tough-talking, red-blooded conservative. This lead to a lot of unfortunate gaffs.
When asked during that election what he would do for African-Americans in Florida, he replied "probably nothing." Bush, of course, lost that election and emerged four years later as a more moderate Republican on his way to finally becoming governor.
Perhaps, facing a prolonged dip in the polls, Bush is turning back into his 1994 form, because yesterday he said that in order to attract black voters to the GOP he said the party shouldn't promise them "free stuff."
Of course, we're doing that bloggy thing of picking out the most egregious part of the quote.
So here's Bush's 1994 answer to the question of what he would do for black Floridians in full:
"It’s time to strive for a society where there’s equality of opportunity, not equality of results. So I’m going to answer your question by saying: probably nothing.
And here's his statement from yesterday explaining how he'll attract black voters:
"Our message is one of hope and aspiration. It isn't one of division and 'Get in line and we'll take care of you with free stuff.' “Our message is one that is uplifting that says you can achieve earned success. We are on your side”"
Bush then claimed that Barack Obama won the election because he gave black voters "extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work[ed] very aggressively to turn them out to vote." Bush then redirected the question to trump his education record, promising he would never get the endorsement of any teachers' union and claimed campaigning on school choice voucher programs would help him succeed among minority voters.
Of course, anyone who has spent any time reading conservative political columns or listening to conservative talk radio, know that this is a popular theory among the right wing. They believe that African-Americans vote Democrat in order to keep receiving federal assistance in the form of welfare and other benefits.
Black Twitter knew exactly what tree Bush was barking up, and didn't take too kindly to it.
Jeb Bush plans win black votes by not offering us "free stuff" — you mean like the 246 years of uncompensated labor we gave you all?— jelani cobb (@jelani9) September 25, 2015
Jeb ain't looking at African-Americans. He's looking past them.— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) September 25, 2015
You don't invite somebody in by implicitly claiming they've been conning the rest of society.— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) September 25, 2015
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GOP outreach to African-Americans, is mostly just outreach to white Americans who don't like being called racist. http://t.co/r6Py4opUJO— Ta-Nehisi Coates (@tanehisicoates) September 25, 2015
Jeb Bush didn't give black voters "free stuff" he illegally purged thousands of them from the voting rolls in 2000 http://t.co/dtY1v9DfJR— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) September 25, 2015
It's interesting how Bush can make such a similar gaffe in two campaigns 20 years apart, however, many are likening the comment to a similar mistake Mitt Romney made during his 2012 campaign.