The audience was small, and consisted primarily of the conservative/libertarian group at work (called the CLAMs!). Jeb tried to pull out some Libertarian credentials - I couldn't quite follow them; something about government being a heart with clogged arteries, post-heart attack and unable to change - but mostly he answered questions from whiny parents and avoided all tough questions. A couple specific comments that struck me:
- He talked about some of the innovative things he did to help listen to his citizens. For instance, he gave people his email firstname.lastname@example.org and supposedly got millions of emails, which I'm sure he read carefully. He also held citizen hours, where he let anyone have 5 minute increments to talk to him. Apparently he learned about, “rodents in basements, varmints on streets, traffic lights misplaced”, all, “things important for a governor to know about”.
- He said that overall 60% of students in college graduate in 6 years, with the #1 degree being psychology. However, he says of psychologists, “we have enough in Florida”. He said he prefers occupations where people are creating wealth. It's interesting since even J wouldn't call psychology a "homeless degree" as he so considerately calls English degrees.
- Jeb spent a majority of time talking about how education is broken, but as with most politicians we've seen, neglected to come up with any solutions. When some folks in the audience asked for specifics, he offered, “teacher’s unions are bad because they lack accountability. The local Florida teacher’s union mortgaged their building to support my opponent during his campaign…I thought that was entrepreneurial of them.” I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like much of a "solution" to me.
- A bunch of parents in the audience whined about gifted kids not getting enough money from public schools. Jeb's response, “we’re losing our geniuses" and “high school is boring, even if you’re not smart” E's response:” I went to math camp.” My response, "You've got to be kidding; you work at Microsoft, you can afford to get your kid in some after school classes if it's so important." (The main whiny mom showed up to hear Mitt Romney when we went to see him too, and E and I noticed her clapping and glowing as though in the presence of a demi-god when Mitt said he'd give more money to gifted education too.)
- Jeb obviously thought interest in politics was something to take seriously; he said, “the fact that you showed up at a PAC meeting for a former governor on a random afternoon means you’ve got something funny going on with your life”
- Finally, the organizer of the event said, “who will be president - you’re off the record here”. Jeb's reply: “nothing is off the record!”
At least he was right about the last part.