Jeb Bush tapped to chair National Constitution Center board
December 6, 2012By Peter Crimmins
The National Constitution Center has always put someone with great political clout at the head of its board. The previous chair was Bill Clinton. Before him was George H.W. Bush.
The head of the center's executive committee, Doug DeVos, says John Ellis "Jeb" Bush was chosen for the bipartisanship he demonstrated as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and for his interest in civic education.
"His role in education in particular, allows us a connectivity into that world that can help us reach. Those are two main things," said DeVos.
"The third thing -- he's such a person of character, and believes in the values and lives the values that we all try to live as part of the Constitution," he said.
Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell praised Bush's ability to negotiate across the aisle in the National Governors Association when they were both members.
"We were a strong and powerful organization -- we could effect congressional outcomes if we acted together. But not when we divided into Democrat and Republican camps," said Rendell. "The mission of this center is a truly bipartisan mission. It's truly an American mission, and we have chosen the right leader to continue that vision."
Bush will not be involved in the center's day-to-day operations; right now, the center is looking for someone else to do that. Since former CEO David Eisner left Nov. 1, Vince Stago is the interim CEO.
The board chairman has traditionally used his political position to further the goals of the center.
"The more we pay tribute to both the founders of our country and their heroic work, and the Constitution they created, the better we will be," said Bush. "To play a small role in that is an honor. I hope to bring a servant's heart to this, work to expand the footprint of this museum around the country.
"This should be a national museum. And it is. To be able to exploit that, to create sustainability, is an important point," he said.
Bush said he is interested in using digital technology to give more teachers across the country access to materials related to civic education.
"I'm honored to succeed former President Clinton, who you might know is my brother," said Bush. "My brother from another mother, perhaps, but he has developed a relationship with my dad that is very moving, very touching. Not just in the political sense that people who were warriors against in each could become friends. That's fantastic, but these guys are really close."
No mention was made of Bush's real brother, two-term president George W. Bush.
Jeb Bush has been mentioned as a GOP contender for the presidency in 2016.