Jeb Bush (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
TAMPA—Jeb Bush delivered a blistering attack on President Barack Obama, accusing him of blaming his brother, former President George W. Bush, for the nation's troubled economy instead of taking responsibility for his own policies.
"Mr. President, it's time to stop blaming your predecessor for your economic problems," the former Florida governor said in his speech at the Republican National Convention. "You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked."
At the same time, Bush defended his brother in remarks that were not included in excerpts the RNC had provided to reporters ahead of his appearance onstage.
"I love my brother," Bush declared, his voice a bit emotional. "He is a man of integrity, courage and honor. And during incredibly challenging times, he kept us safe."
As the crowd erupted in cheers, Bush grinned. "Now that I've gotten that off my chest," he said, pausing.
From there, Bush went back to his originally planned remarks, offering a full-throated endorsement of Mitt Romney's education policies. He argued the upcoming election is about "the future of the nation" when it comes to making sure the United States continues to be "the greatest nation on the planet."
"We can shape that future with what we do here. With what we do Nov. 6, we can restore America's greatness," Bush said. "That starts with a strong economy, a smart energy policy, lower deficits and a president who puts America's workers and job-creators first."
The ex-governor appeared onstage with Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy, a former star of MTV's "The Real World" who is a teacher. Bush argued that there is a "moral cost" to America's failing schools and highlighted Romney's education record as governor of Massachusetts. He called Romney someone who "intends to be a champion for equality of opportunity, a president who always puts students first."
It was a somewhat bittersweet moment for some Republicans inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum who had hoped that Bush would pursue his own campaign for the presidency in 2012. But Bush repeatedly declined overtures from party leaders, insisting he had no interest in the job.
"In this election, remember this: Our future as a nation is at stake. Fact is, this election is not about just one office. It is about one nation. If we want to continue to be the greatest nation on the planet, we must give our kids what we promise them: An equal opportunity," Bush said. "That starts in the classroom. It starts in our communities. It starts where you live. And it starts with electing Mitt Romney the next president of the United States."