Jeb Bush bowed out of a chance to introduce himself to Republican grassroots voters in Iowa last month, but he’ll get another shot at it in just a few weeks.
The former Florida governor will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual event hosted by the American Conservative Union and attended largely by the party’s young activists. The party’s potential presidential candidates often use the conference to road test their stump speeches before a friendly audience. Activists last year surprised many when they rose to their feet for another establishment politician, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who at the time was reeling from the Bridgegate scandal.
The exact date of Bush’s remarks has yet to be determined, but the conference will take place from February 25–28 in National Harbor, Maryland. The news comes as Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who is also slated to speak at the conference, has dominated the news cycle, leading a Des Moines Register poll released over the weekend and capturing national headlines.
“CPAC is always a fun gathering and a great exchange of ideas among conservatives,” Bush said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to joining conservatives from across the country later this month as we work together to expand opportunity and restore the right to rise in America.” Bush did not attend last year’s conference due to a previously scheduled business trip, but delivered a keynote address on education policy in 2013. As 2016 inches closer, Bush will face mounting pressure to shower attention on the Republican rank-and-file, and his CPAC address will give him a start.
“We look forward to Governor Jeb Bush’s participation at CPAC, the American Conservative Union’s annual conference,” said ACU chairman Matt Schlapp, who took the reins of the organization from longtime chairman and Bush ally Al Cardenas. “While governor of Florida, Jeb Bush promoted a number of conservative policies: He cut taxes each of his eight years in office, he defended 2nd Amendment rights, stood up for the sanctity of life, and always opposed the communist regime in Cuba. CPAC 2015 will give Governor Jeb Bush the opportunity to talk to activists about why he is considering a run for the presidency and why he thinks they will play a vital role in the nominating process.”
Several other potential 2016 candidates will join Bush at the conference, including neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, former Texas governor Rick Perry, Texas senator Ted Cruz, Kentucky senator Rand Paul, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.