Jeb Bush will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University on May 9, becoming the second GOP presidential contender to speak at the Christian school this year.
“Throughout his years of public service, Governor Bush has been a champion of excellence in education and so many other issues of vital importance to our university community,” President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement about the college’s 42nd commencement exercises.
Bush, a former Florida governor, has all but declared he will seek the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the first Republican to formally enter the field, and kicked off his campaign with a speech at Liberty’s convocation on March 23.
Liberty, founded by Falwell’s father in 1971, bills itself as the world’s largest Christian university. The Virginia school has long been a popular setting for speeches by presidential candidates and political figures, including Mitt Romney and John McCain. Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, spoke to Liberty graduates in 1990 and received an honorary degree.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, also considered a possible contender for the GOP nomination, gave last year’s commencement address at Liberty.
The younger Bush converted to Catholicism in 1996, the religion of his wife, Columba, after being raised as an Episcopalian. After attending Mass near his Florida home last month, Bush told The New York Times: “It gives me a serenity, and allows me to think clearer. It’s made me a better person.”
— by Catalina Camia | USA Today | RNS