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The next George stumps in Colorado

Nephew George P. Bush talks up his uncle

By Leigh E. Rich

George Bush isn’t new to politics. George P. Bush, that is.

The nephew of President George W. Bush, grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has proudly pinned the family appellation to his political lapel during election years.

But not for his own sake—well, at least not yet. This 28-year-old law school graduate and Hispanic heartthrob of the Bush band has helped his politically minded relatives secure public office since the 1988 Republican National Convention, where he led the Pledge of Allegiance.

He also wore the Bush designation well at the 2000 national Republican gathering in Philadelphia, delivering a primetime bilingual address that spoke to the party’s platform of “compassionate conservatism.”

And George P. has donned it again for the current election season, stopping this week in the Rocky Mountain state to help his uncle garner the Hispanic vote.

The younger Bush, one of three children of Jeb and Mexican-born Columba Bush, spoke with Hispanic community leaders in Denver on Wednesday before heading to Pueblo and Colorado Springs for “a party for the president” to recruit more campaign volunteers, he said after his roundtable discussion that focused on education and immigration.

Both issues are hot topics in the Centennial state.

Denver currently has the highest high school dropout rate among Latinos, said Jorge Amaya, a community organizer and the director of the Colorado Alliance for Reform in Education. Amaya participated in Wednesday’s roundtable.

“It’s just the system that we’re in,” Amaya lamented, adding that students at Denver’s North and West high schools cannot take their textbooks home because there aren’t enough to go around.

There is a “shrinking pool,” he added, “of high school graduates in the Latino community that can go on to college.”

Of the 40 percent of Hispanics who graduate in Colorado, Amaya said that “only 12 percent are prepared for college.”

With such numbers, he regretfully stated, the “prospects aren’t very bright for our culture.”

Amaya and others in the community advocate “allowing parents to choose” which schools their children will attend, presumably via a voucher system that President Bush and the Republicans have long advocated.

Anna Flores, a Denver-based advocate of school choice who visited with the George P. Bush team after the roundtable, also acknowledged that America’s current school system isn’t working.

“We need to do something drastic for our Latino children here in this state and in the nation,” she said. “I hope school choice can remedy it. I don’t see any other idea being (offered).”

Though the discussion of America’s appalling dropout rates among minority populations was raised during George P.’s campaign stop for his uncle, Flores emphasized that “it should not be an issue that is bipartisan. It should be nonpartisan.”

Education is a particularly important issue for Hispanics—the fastest-growing minority in the United States that also bears much of the brunt of the failures of America’s educational system.

While President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has been touted as a potential solution to such problems, the legislation has recently been criticized by many as being underfunded.

Although Amaya, a former Democrat, believes that Bush’s No Child promise requires additional funding and better enforcement, he does support what he says has often been “looked at as a burden.”

“We now know which schools are the worst performing schools,” he said.

Concerning immigration, an issue doggedly addressed by U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo from Colorado’s 6th CD, George P. told reporters Wednesday that “immigration reform is important to the Hispanic community,” particularly because many undocumented workers in the United States are “solely searching for economic opportunity.”

It is widely known that Tancredo vocally disagrees with the Bush administration’s stance on immigration, which Tancredo deemed “weak” and “Clintonesque” in a press release issued Wednesday.

George P. came to President Bush’s defense when asked about Tancredo’s dissent, stating “I remind voters that my uncle is the leader of this party.”

One of the goals of his uncle’s temporary workers program, unleashed in January, was to “prevent exploitation” of America’s undocumented workers, George P. said.

The president’s nephew also added that the current administration, which for some time now has been focusing on the aftermath of Sept. 11, can return to “hemispheric issues.”

Whether George Prescott Bush can help his uncle secure Colorado’s and America’s Hispanic vote in the upcoming election is another matter entirely. But George P. says the elder Bush “has made inroads” into a community that often sides with the Democrats.

Its not difficult to comprehend, George P. says, emphasizing that many views of the Bush administration “coincide” with the concerns of the Hispanic community: “faith in God, faith in family, faith in community.”

“Unfortunately,” he acknowledges, “the Hispanic community does not vote as it should.”

When members of America’s Hispanic population do get to the polls, Amaya warns candidates, “One thing you’ll find in our culture, we never vote straight ticket. … We’re not a typical voter. We shop a lot.”

Amaya, who will only go as far to say “I would never vote of Kerry,” adds that America’s presidential candidates and Colorado’s Senate candidates ought to pay attention to these types of voters.

Calling the Senate race between Ken Salazar and Pete Coors “a toss up,” Amaya believes “this vote is going to hinge on the independent vote.”

George P. commented only briefly on Colorado’s tight Senate race, mainly to emphasize that Salazar—whom he deems “a successful politician”—cannot win solely on his ethnicity. He also added that Salazar’s roots will not sway Colorado’s Hispanic citizens from voting for Bush.

“At the end of the day, American voters look at the top of the ticket. Everything else is part if the blur, part of the wash.”

The younger Bush did acknowledge that Colorado and the southwest are important political arenas because of their growing populations.

“We’re expecting not only a close race here in Colorado but across the country,” he admitted.

But make no mistake, this 2004 W campaign trail stand-in believes his uncle is the best man for the job and will win the November election.

“You know where he stands,” George P. said of his “Uncle Dubs,” as he affectionately calls the president one-on-one.

Just shy of deeming John Kerry a “waffler,” he added that “Sen. Kerry has an extensive record in the Senate” that contradicts his campaign promises elicited at the Democratic National Convention.

“You would have thought that he was a Republican,” George P. accused Kerry regarding the Democratic platform issued in Boston.

Rich, L. E. (2004, August 27). Always wear Bush after Labor Day: The next George stumps in Colorado. The Colorado Statesman, pp. 9, 11.

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