Washington (CNN) – Jeb Bush has often said he was considering running for President, but what may have been different was the reaction he got Wednesday at a New York City fundraiser for Catholic Charities. He received a standing ovation and was cheered on during the private event, one attendee told CNN.
In response, Bush joked with the crowd to “call” his mother to get permission – a reference to Barbara Bush’s comments that there should be other families running for president and that there have been enough Bushes to occupy the Oval Office – although she also said Jeb is the most qualified.
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On the timing of his decision whether to run for president, multiple sources familiar with the event tell CNN that Bush told the crowd what he has consistently said for some time – that he will make a decision by the end of this year.
One source says this was a long-planned Catholic Charities fundraiser Bush agreed to do for the Archdiocese of New York headed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
He also talked to the group about his strong views on education – how the nation is falling behind and how competition can create better schools. He acknowledged criticism he has received for his support of the Common Core curriculum, the attendee who requested anonymity told CNN.
Some conservatives have voiced opposition to schools adopting the national set of education standards, which apply to students in kindergarten through 12th grade in the subjects of language arts/literacy and math. Forty-four states have adopted it. Proponents, led by Bush, say the standards help prepare students for college and the workforce, while critics argue it is government interference. President Barack Obama has embraced them, but some leading Republicans now oppose them.
One of those in attendance at the Wednesday event was CNBC host Larry Kudlow, who urged Bush to keep doing what you are doing on education, the attendee said. Bush, in fact, was “applauded all the way” during the event. His positions on education and immigration are believed to be in line with many supporters of Catholic Charities.
He received strong support from the crowd for his immigration positions that have drawn the scorn of conservatives. He recently said of illegal immigrants: “Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It's an act of love, it's an act of commitment to your family," Bush told Fox News during an event earlier this month marking the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of his father, for President George H.W. Bush.
“There should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.”
On Monday, Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona caused a stir when he said in a Facebook post he agreed with Bush.
“I applaud him for having the guts to say it. Growing up…in Arizona, I’ve seen what motivates those who come here illegally. Sure, some come with the intent to do harm or simply to take advantage of our generosity. But many come to find work to feed their families. To lump everyone who crosses the border illegally into the same class is unfair and unproductive.”
He then added: “I hold no brief for Jeb Bush, but having such a prominent Republican speak so humanely and unapologetically about the motivations behind many of those who have come to reside in this country is good for all of us.”