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Jeb Bush slips on Spanish history

Brothers George (left) and Jeb Bush
Brothers George (left) and Jeb Bush

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MADRID, Spain -- The U.S. president's brother Jeb Bush has sparked criticism after mistakenly referring to Spain as a republic in a speech to Spanish business leaders during a trip to Madrid to discuss business opportunities.

Florida Governor Jeb Bush's blunder was reminiscent of President George W. Bush's past slip-ups which have included pronouncing Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's name incorrectly.

Spanish historian Juan Pablo Fusi said the error by Bush was "foolish and grotesque."

"It's an offence to Spain and its democratic monarchy," Fusi told Reuters. "It further ridicules the Bushes in general."

Bush, the governor of Florida, was in Madrid to promote the state to Spanish businesses and to meet Prime Minister Aznar. (Full story)

Speaking in Spanish, Bush said: "I want to thank the president of the Republic of Spain for his friendship with the United States."

Spain has not been a republic since the late 1930s, when General Francisco Franco crushed Republican troops in the Civil War.

Franco's nationalist dictatorship lasted until his death in 1975, when Spain became a constitutional monarchy. King Juan Carlos I is now the head of state.

His older brother President Bush once referred to Aznar as "Anzar" ahead of his first visit to Spain as U.S. president in 2001.

President Bush, accused by opponents of having a shaky grasp on geography, has also famously referred to Greeks as Grecians.

And he once sent a shiver through jittery stock markets when he was speaking about the "deflation" in the Japanese yen and accidentally said "devaluation," which led to a brief rush to sell the yen on international currency markets.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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