Editor's note: The original version of this story credited Jeb Bush as the first potential 2016 Republican presidential hopeful to use Meerkat. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul actually used the app on Sunday in an impromptu event at SXSW. We regret the error; the story below has been updated.
On Thursday, Jeb Bush delivered a speech via Meerkat, the live-streaming app that’s been predicted to change the 2016 election.
Following an appearance before the Georgia Legislature — where he coincidentally ran into rapper Ludacris — Bush attended a fundraiser at a private home in suburban Atlanta, where he delivered a speech and, using Meerkat, invited all 170,000 of his Twitter followers to watch. About 385 showed up.
The former Florida governor has yet to announce his candidacy. But in his speech Thursday, Bush made a pledge for his “hypothetical” presidential campaign.
“I’m going to try to stay positive. I’m going to be a happy warrior, not a grumpy one,” he said, promising not to “fake anger to placate people’s angst.”
Bush pointed to the improvements made to Florida’s education system during his governorship as proof of his ability to accomplish change as a conservative governor in a “purple” state.
“Our elections are generally close, as you might remember,” he said, getting a big laugh from the room.
While Florida’s education system “is not a federal issue,” Bush argued that the same kind of “consensus” is necessary to tackle bigger issues, such as immigration, government regulations, and taxes.
“The fact is, to get from where we are today to where we need to be requires leadership,” he said. That means “not demonizing people, not talking down to them.
“I believe we can create high sustained economic growth where more and more people achieve earned success,” he said.
“It won’t happen if you run a campaign that tears people down. ... You’ll never be able to create the consensus necessary to make the big changes possible.”
More than just another indication that a presidential run is imminent, Bush’s speech offered a glimpse at what the 2016 campaign trail will look like, whether or not he’s on it. Since its debut at South by Southwest last week, Meerkat has been predicted to revolutionize campaign coverage, allowing reporters to broadcast live content from the trail.
Bush’s speech Thursday demonstrated the social tool’s value not just for the media but also for the candidates. With just one simple tweet, Bush took a historically — and controversially — exclusive part of every presidential campaign and opened the doors to anyone with a smartphone.