WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday decried messages posted to Twitter by a top technology aide as "inappropriate," but a spokeswoman said the recent hire would remain with Bush's nascent presidential campaign.
The distraction came on the same day Bush told supporters and former aides he is "singularly focused" on weighing a presidential bid, and as he prepared to release thousands of emails from his time as Florida's chief executive and the first chapter of a related e-book to highlight what he called a compassionate leadership style with deep conservative credentials.
A Bush spokeswoman said he was disappointed to learn that Ethan Czahor — hired in January as chief technology officer of Bush's Right to Rise political action committee — had posted messages on his personal Twitter account that referred to women as "sluts" and made remarks about gay men.
Within an hour, Czahor posted a new tweet, his first in months: "i deleted some old jokes i made years ago that i no longer find funny or appropriate. #learning #maturing"
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said Czahor, 31, the founder of Hipster.com, will stay in the role.
"Gov. Bush thinks the comments were inappropriate, and they have been deleted at our request," she said. "Ethan is a great talent in the tech world and we're excited to have him on board."
In one tweet posted in 2009, since deleted, Czahor wrote, "new study confirms old belief: college female art majors are sluts, science majors are also sluts but uglier."
Czahor did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about the tweets and his role in Bush's political operation.
The tweets were first reported by BuzzFeed News.
Bush has yet to announce his political intentions, but he has been among the most aggressive GOP presidential prospects in recent weeks. He continues to court top political donors across the country, while reviving and expanding a political machine that was largely dormant in the eight years since he left the Florida governor's mansion.
He recently launched the Right to Rise organization to serve as a vehicle for a potential campaign.
"My personal belief is that Republicans can win if we're more hopeful and aspirational, which is why we've used the terminology 'Right to Rise,'" Bush said on a conference call Monday with staff and supporters. "We lost the sense that it's possible that the future can be brighter for people."
Bush said during the call he planned to release emails from his two terms as governor on a new website Tuesday. He suggested the emails showing his interactions with constituents and staff would help shape his message in a prospective presidential campaign.
"One of things that came out of this was a sense there is a story to be told here," Bush said, describing "a style of leadership that tried to help people" and an ideological consistency "where I think we stayed true to conservative perspective."
The 20-minute call touched on a range of political strategy and policy, and the son and brother of former presidents cited the support from his family as he eyes the 2016 campaign.
"Thanks to the support that I have from my beloved wife and family, my life is totally focused on this," he said.
During the call, Bush called on his Republican allies to reach out to Hispanic voters and other groups critical to the GOP's 2016 prospects.
"Because our message was maybe too harsh or our harsher voices are the ones that seem to have dominated, we've lost a little ground," he said. "But the fact that I'm bilingual, bicultural can't hurt."
Bush's wife Columba is from Mexico. He is fluent in Spanish, and received his bachelor's degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas.
Bush, who last week unveiled themes of what would be an economic platform, hinted at what would be his diplomatic and national security priorities, which he plans to outline in a speech in Chicago next week.
He said his top spending priority would be to "protect our shores," and said he would promote U.S. power as "a force of good, not bad." He made no reference to Iraq, where his brother, former President George W. Bush, was criticized for waging an unpopular war.
But he argued that U.S. economic strength was tied to its strength around the world.
"I think the political argument is that we have to lead, that it's in our interest to lead, that if we focus on growing the economy where incomes begin to rise and we re-engage with the world, that there's going to be better prospects for Americans," Bush said. "And so you have to make it about the broad number of people that feel fatigued about our presence in the world."
Bush said he would call for an increase in defense funding "and defend vigorously the counterintelligence efforts that have protected the homeland."