Florida face-off: Clinton and Bush offer stark contrast in strategies Presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton gave dueling speeches at the Urban National League’s annual conference on Friday. (Photos: AP; Getty Images)One week before Jeb Bush jumps into the Republican free-for-all primary on a debate stage with nine other candidates, he faced off Friday with the likely Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, as the two of them gave dueling speeches to the National Urban League.The highly anticipated showdown between Clinton and Bush, at the Urban League’s annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., yielded a contrast in strategies.Clinton chose to make an attack on Bush the centerpiece of her speech, but Bush largely ignored Clinton and focused his remarks on what he did to help minorities and urban populations during his time as governor of Florida.Clinton went after Bush aggressively over his recent comments that he wants to “phase out” Medicare. Bushsupports making changes to the current system, such as means-testing benefits, because he believes it to be fiscally unsound. Clinton and her campaign have seized on Bush’s words because his comment made it sound like he was talking about ending the 50-year old health-insurance program for older Americans and because Democrats believe the changes he backs will fundamentally alter its character.Clinton singled out Bush by ridiculing one of the central slogans of his campaign, which is that every American has the “right to rise.”“I don’t think you can credibly say that everyone has a ‘right to rise’ and then say you’re for phasing out Medicare or for repealing Obamacare,” Clinton said. “People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care.”Clinton continued her riff on Bush’s “right to rise” motif and used it to extend her critique to parts of Bush’s record as governor and her support for raising the minimum wage.“They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on. They can’t rise if their governor makes it harder for them to get a college education. And you cannot seriously talk about the right to rise and support laws that deny the right to vote,” Clinton said.A group supporting Clinton, Correct the Record, quickly followed her speech with a press release arguing that the “stand your ground” gun law Bush signed in Florida “disproportionately targeted African-Americans” and that Bush “pushed discriminatory policing and sentencing laws at every turn,” “vetoed grants to benefit African-American-owned businesses,” and created an educational standard called “One Florida” that “led to a huge drop in African American enrollment at state universities.”Bush himself mentioned the “One Florida” program during a brief conversation following his remarks with Urban League president Marc Morial, acknowledging that the program to end race-based admissions policies in Florida’s state schools was controversial. But, he said, it actually increased minority enrollment rates in the state’s schools.There were 33,000 African-American college students in Florida in 1999, compared to 44,000 in 2013, according to Politifact. But because Florida’s overall university enrollments have grown at an even faster pace, the percent of black students has decreased slightly, from 14 percent to 13 percent. And some in Florida have expressed concern that the black population at the state’s flagship schools — the University of Florida and Florida State University — has shrunk as many African-American students have enrolled in smaller regional schools.
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