PHILADELPHIA (AP) – It might not be the White House, but former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will follow in his father’s footsteps as head of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
The younger Bush on Thursday was named the next chairman of the Philadelphia museum, a job former President George H.W. Bush held from 2007-2008. Another former president, Bill Clinton, has held the post the last four years.
Bush, 59, said he feels a cultural shift brewing in the United States. He’s been reading up on U.S. and world history to try to prepare for it.
“I think … there’s going to be a time of cultural change in our country,” Bush said, “and typically these have been done in ways that people didn’t anticipate.
“I want to learn about the past so I can think about the future,” he said.
But asked if a run for president is in his future in 2016, Bush demurred and politely changed the topic.
Bush himself is bilingual, and led a diverse, immigrant-rich population as governor of Florida from 1999-2007.
He said he hopes to fill “a critical void in our country” as he carries out the center’s mission of improving civic education and engagement.
And he joked that he was honored to follow Clinton as chairman because the Democrat and sometime Bush family rival has become like “a brother from another mother.”
“He has developed a relationship with my dad that is very moving,” Jeb Bush said. “These guys have become really close.”
In 2006, both Clinton and the elder Bush received the Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal, an annual award given to those whose actions represent the founding principles of the United States. They were honored for their efforts helping victims of Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in southeast Asia.
Prior to becoming governor, Jeb Bush worked in banking in Texas and Venezuela. He is also the state’s former commerce secretary.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the board’s vice chairman, said he knows Bush to be a consensus builder who will bring a fresh vision to the Constitution Center’s mission. They worked together when their gubernatorial terms overlapped, Rendell said.
The center explores constitutional ideals through its museum exhibits, which include rare artifacts, a theater, and Signers’ Hall, which holds 42 life-size, bronze statues of the Founding Fathers. The Constitution Center also hosts public lectures and debates, and houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach.
Bush said the country’s problems may seem daunting, but pale in comparison to those faced by the nation’s founders, disparate people who came together and forged a constitution.
“If they were to have done that, we can solve the fiscal cliff problem and we can solve other problems,” Bush said.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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