Jeb Bush books Liberty University's commencement

Washington (CNN)Jeb Bush is the latest Republican presidential contender to book a major speaking engagement at Liberty University.

The former Florida governor will deliver the school's May 9 commencement, handing him the same audience of students at the university founded by Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had when he launched his presidential campaign in March.
His speech comes as Bush prepares to launch his run for the White House -- which he's insisted is in an exploratory phase as he brings on new staff at his Miami headquarters, headlines big-dollar fundraisers and makes a series of campaign stops in key states.
Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty University's president, said the school is "honored to welcome" Bush for its commencement, set for 10 a.m. on May 9 at Liberty's Williams Stadium.
    "Throughout his years of public service, Gov. Bush has been a champion for excellence in education and so many other issues of vital importance to our university community," he said.
    The university, which emphasizes conservative Christian values, is a magnet for GOP presidential candidates. Sen. John McCain was a commencement speaker there before winning the party's nomination in 2008.
    In 2011, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke at the university. The next year, GOP nominee Mitt Romney gave the commencement address.