George P. Bush has made what’s being called a “safe if rather unpolished debut” as a political candidate at the Texas Legislative Conference.
The 36-year-old half-Mexican American attorney gave a keynote speech at the conference on Friday that shined a spotlight on Republican themes like energy independence.
Despite a speech that lacked the easy manner mastered by other members of his political family, about 200 people at the conference still responded with enthusiastic applause before Bush left the room without shaking many hands or speaking to reporters.
“I can’t contain my burning optimism for being a Texan,” said Bush. “For being born here, for being educated here and having the opportunity to create opportunity here.”
Bush – the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, the nephew of former President George W. Bush and the son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – left Texas with his family for Florida in the late 1970s. But her returned to the Lone Star State for college and law school. He now resides in Fort Worth with his wife, Amanda.
The keynote address was Bush’s public debut as a political candidate. He formally announced this month that he’ll run for Texas Land Commissioner in 2014 after months of hints about a campaign for a statewide office.
Bush took no big risks and avoided gaffes in a speech that reminded the audience about his nine months deployed in Afghanistan and working with at-risk students in urban schools. But he often stumbled over his words and sometimes appeared to rush through the notes in front of him.
Bush, who said he wears his U.S. Naval Reserve uniform one weekend a month for training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, sounded most assured and comfortable when discussing the welfare of veterans.
Among the responsibilities overseen by the Texas General Land Office is veterans affairs. Bush vowed to make veterans more aware of the benefits they’re entitled to if elected to land commissioner.
Bush, whose mother was born in Mexico, is considered a rising star among conservative Hispanics, and his political pedigree is hard to match. He has been active in politics for years. Last summer, he was promoted to deputy finance chairman of the Texas Republican Party.