In perhaps his most campaign-style speech so far, not-yet-official GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush vowed Thursday not to alter his views on immigration despite intense opposition among some parts of the Republican base.

“If I go beyond the consideration of running, I’m not backing down from something that is a core belief,” Bush told a gathering of the conservative Club for Growth in Florida. “Are we supposed to just cower because at the moment people are all upset about something? No way, no how.”

It was an issue Bush clearly wanted to talk about. As his 45-minute appearance neared its end, after about 25 minutes of speech and 20 minutes of question-and-answer, the moderator, Club for Growth President David McIntosh, was about to ask the last question when Bush interjected, “Can we do one about immigration?” Without a specific question to answer, Bush, a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform, began an extended discussion of his priorities on the issue.

Seen by a significant number of Republicans as weak on immigration, Bush stressed the toughness of his views. The current immigration system is broken, he said, “because we don’t enforce the law. It’s broken because we have a president that uses authority he doesn’t have to pick and choose who gets to stay and who doesn’t. It’s broken because 40 percent of the illegal immigrants in our country came here legally and overstayed their time. It’s broken because businesses sometimes hire illegal immigrants and they shouldn’t do that and there should be true enforcement so that people know that that’s the wrong thing.”


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