It's no secret that the typical RedState Gathering attendee is not Jeb Bush's core constituency, but the former Florida governor on Saturday received sustained praise from the 700 people in the audience for his speech.
Bush went heavy on policy, touching on reforms of Washington ethics, energy and foreign policy.
But, while answering questions from RedState host Erick Erickson, Bush safely navigated immigration and Common Core, two topics that had been land mines for him with many conservatives.
Bush said the 11 million people in the country illegally should be allowed to "earn" legal status. That means they "pay a fine, get a provisional work permit. They don’t earn federal money, they pay taxes, they learn English."
The alternative -- deporting them -- would cost $400 billion to $600 billion over 20 years and "will disrupt community life."
"I"m going to stand on that and believe it and if people don't, that's fine," Bush said.
Erickson said Bush has previously explained his position on Common Core but asked Bush to explain his stance on education standards.
"Standards need to be high," Bush said. "They need to be higher. We spend more per student. We end up with dismal results because we dumbed down curriculum."
Bush touted his work to expand school choice as governor and said nearly all of the advancements that need to be made in education should come from the states, not Washington.
The crowd reacted with appreciative, impressed -- but not fervent -- applause.
Bush quick hits
Biggest applause line: It’s all backwards. It’s all upside down. Our friends should know we have their back and our enemies should fear us."
Sharpest jab at a Republican: "What Donald trump said is wrong. That’s not how we win elections."
Sharpest jab at a Democrat: "We need to be united. Because Hillary Clinton is going to be Barack Obama’s third term on economic policy."
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