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Ricardo Arduengo, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this April 28, 2015 file photo, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting with Puerto Rico's Republican Party in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Bush on Wednesday declared that 11 million immigrants in the country illegally should have an opportunity to stay, wading into the explosive immigration debate for the second time in two days while courting Hispanic voters.

HOUSTON — Jeb Bush isn't wasting any time building bridges with Hispanic voters before the 2016 presidential election.

Well before the first votes are cast for the Republican nomination — indeed, even before he declares his candidacy — Bush is strengthening his Hispanic ties.

That will be important for him in the contest for the presidency — that's if the former Florida governor wins the nomination. Hispanic voters typically have little influence in a Republican primary but can be a force in the general election.

Bush often used his fluency in Spanish in trips to Puerto Rico and Houston this week.

He's hired an adviser on Hispanic media. And his Mexican-born wife, Columba, is expected to start doing more in his rising campaign.