WASHINGTON — Stepping closer to a White House bid, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is ready to release thousands of emails and the first chapter of a related e-book intended to highlight his compassionate leadership style and conservative credentials.
The Republican said during a Monday morning conference call that he would release the materials on Tuesday. While many news outlets previously obtained the emails from Bush's time in office, the former two-term governor suggested his interaction with constituents and staff would help shape his message in a prospective presidential campaign.
"One of things that came out this was a sense there is a story to be told here," Bush said, describing "a style of leadership that tried to help people."
The Associated Press was provided dial-in details and listened to the call.
Bush has yet to announce his political intentions, but he has been among the most aggressive GOP presidential prospects in recent weeks.
Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, cited the support from his family as he eyes the 2016 campaign.
"Thanks to the support that I have from my beloved wife and family, my life is totally focused on this," he said.
He also spoke in more depth than he had previously about the themes that would define a potential campaign.
In what was a revealing look inside Bush's thinking, he called on his allies to show respect and demonstrate hopefulness among Hispanic voters and other groups that have shrunk as part of the Republican electorate.
"Because our message was maybe too harsh or our harsher voices are the ones that seem to have dominated, we've lost a little ground," he said during the 20-minute call. "But the fact that I'm bilingual, bicultural can't hurt."
Bush's wife Columba is from Mexico. Bush is fluent in Spanish, and received his bachelor's degree from the University of Texas in Latin American studies.
Bush, who unveiled in Detroit last week themes of what would be an economic platform, hinted at what would be his diplomatic and national security priorities, which he plans to outline in a speech in Chicago next week.
He said his top spending priority would be to "protect our shores," and would promote U.S. power as "a force of good not bad." He made no reference to Iraq, where his brother, former President George W. Bush, was criticized for waging an unpopular war.
But he argued the U.S. economic strength was also tied to its strength around the world.
"I think the political argument is that we have to lead, that it's in our interest to lead, that if we focus on growing the economy where incomes begin to rise and we re-engage with the world, that there's going to be better prospects for Americans," Bush said. "And so you have to make it about the broad number of people that feel fatigued about our presence in the world."
Bush said he would call for an increase in defense funding "and defend vigorously the counterintelligence efforts that have protected the homeland."