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Jeb Bush says he's running for president; announcement shaped by family history

·Chief National Correspondent
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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush formally launched his 2016 presidential campaign Monday afternoon in Miami. Yahoo global news anchor Katie Couric will hosts a special livestream following the announcement along with a team of political experts who will provide analysis of Bush's White House bid. Stay tuned.

MIAMI –Jeb Bush made it official Monday, announcing his candidacy for president to a crowd chanting "Let's go Jeb" in Miami.

Try as he might to emphasize that he is his own man and not his father or his older brother, who both served as president, Bush could not shake the echoes of the past as he launched his own run for the White House here today.

In October of 1987, 10 days after wrapping up a trip to Europe where he defied the Soviet Union, then-63-year-old Vice President George H.W. Bush took to a stage in Houston, Texas, his adopted home, and launched a presidential campaign that was well-organized and well-funded.

On Monday, Jeb Bush, the 62-year-old former governor of Florida, having just returned from a trip to Europe where he talked tough against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, will take the stage in Miami, his adopted home, and officially announce his own presidential campaign — one that is well-funded, like his father’s, but has not been quite as organized to date.

The elder Bush, as he announced a second run for the White House in 1987 (he had run before in 1980 and lost to Ronald Reagan), was struggling to emerge from the shadow of one of the most popular Republican presidents in history.

“This is the beginning of George Bush as George Bush,” Bush’s political director, Richard Bond, told the New York Times.

Jeb Bush’s greatest challenge is that he is seen by most Americans as the brother of George W. Bush and the son of George H.W. Bush, despite a long career in politics and business.

“I am my own man,” Jeb said earlier this year.

He expanded on that thought in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash this past week during his trip to Europe, at a stop in Estonia.

“Jeb is different than George, and Jeb is who he is,” Jeb said on his trip to Europe last week. “I don’t have to disassociate myself from my family — I love them. But I know that for me to be successful, I’m going to have to show my heart and tell my story.“

In substance, as well, Jeb Bush’s central slogan — the “Right to Rise” — is a continuation of a common thread that ties him to his father and brother. George W. Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” became a defining hallmark of his presidency, and a target for criticism from those who saw it as code for a Republican expansion of government.

Jeb’s older brother, then the governor of Texas, laid down a marker in his presidential announcement speech on June 12, 1999, in Amana, Iowa. In it, he challenged conservatives skeptical of his rhetoric about compassion.

“I know this approach has been criticized. But why? Is compassion beneath us? Is mercy below us? Should our party be led by someone who boasts of a hard heart? I know Republicans — across the country — are generous of heart,” George W. Bush said. “I am proud to be a compassionate conservative. I welcome the label. And on this ground I’ll take my stand.”

“Prosperity must have a purpose,” W. said.

Those words harked back to his own father’s announcement in Houston 12 years earlier.

’‘Prosperity with a purpose means, in short, helping your brothers and sisters whoever they are, whatever their needs,” George H.W. Bush said. “There are those who would say it’s soft and insufficiently tough to care about these things. But where is it written that Republicans must act as if they do not care, as if they are not moved?”

Jeb Bush’s closest political adviser, Sally Bradshaw, told Yahoo News ahead of his announcement that “for [Jeb] public service is about more than fixing problems — he has a heart for people who have been left behind and truly wants to help them rise up and reach their potential.”

“He’ll take his case everywhere and to everyone. Not just to certain kinds of people or to those who agree with him. He will do it without flinching,” Bradshaw said. “He’ll do it because leading is about something bigger than any political party or any one group. It’s about bringing people together and recapturing the promise of a great nation. And he’s going to work his tail off because he has to earn every vote.”

That’s another hallmark of the Bushes. They are about “running hard,” as George W. said in 1999.

“I’m running to win,” W. said.

H.W., in his announcement, said, “I mean to run hard, to fight hard, to stand on the issues, and I mean to win.”

The talk of compassion did not extend to political opponents, with tough attacks helping lift both H.W. and W. to victory.

In 2000, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was accused in South Carolina of fathering a black child out of wedlock in anonymous fliers, after he had beaten George W. in New Hampshire. Many suspected Bush supporters, though the Bush campaign denied any involvement.

And in 1988, George H.W. Bush won the general election by going negative on Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, a Democrat.

“There was a line that crept into [Bush’s] speeches. … It never got famous, like the catchy bluster of ‘Read my lips!’” wrote Richard Ben Cramer in his famous book on the 1988 election, “What It Takes.”

“But people in the crowds would look up when he said it … there was such an (unusual) air of conviction in Bush’s voice. … It came at the end of his praise for Ronald Reagan, how people felt differently about the USA now … how different was the economy, the business climate, the tax code. … Bush would praise all these supposed achievements, and then say: ‘And I’m not going to let them take it away.’ … There was the message of the campaign, in one line. And that line made perfect sense to Bush — once ‘them’ become Michael Dukakis. After that, Bush would do … whatever it took.”

Jeb, in his CNN interview, said his dad — who celebrated his 91st birthday on Friday — would be on his mind as he announces his candidacy.

“He’s just the greatest man alive,” Jeb said. “I’ll be thinking about him when I’m announcing my decision.”

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