July 9th, 2009
02:06 PM ET
5 years ago

Jeb Bush: 'I don't know' if Obama is a socialist

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is part of the effort, led by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, to re-brand the GOP.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is part of the effort, led by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, to re-brand the GOP.

(CNN) – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told an interviewer that he could not say whether or not President Barack Obama is a socialist, and that the president would not have been elected if he had been honest with Americans about his agenda.

Bush would not answer the question of whether he agreed with the assessment of some congressional Republicans that the president is a socialist. "I don't know. Define socialism for me," he told Esquire magazine. "It's a word... I believe he's a collectivist. He believes that through collective action, through government, you can solve more problems." He added that he believed the word "socialism" was a pejorative, and "didn't help" the GOP make its case.

The brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush dismissed the idea that his party's policies were unpopular with most Americans. "I don't think there's any seismic shift. The Democrats have won on tactics," he said. "Barack Obama would not have gotten elected if he'd let us in on his secret plan prior to the election," he said, pointing to the president's economic agenda and energy proposals.

"....He made it appear like McCain was going to raise taxes, which was unfair, but there was no response back. When there was an ideological component, it was generally centrist or even center-right. Had he said what he was going to do as a candidate, (Obama) would have lost."

He downplayed the president's approval ratings, which remain above average. "First of all, who cares?" he said.

"His popularity is no greater – in fact it's less – than what my brother's was during the beginning of his tenure, in a time of unbelievable friction, if you think about it, because of the 2000 election. His approval ratings were higher than Barack Obama's during his first one hundred days."

According to the most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls, Obama's approval ratings have averaged several points higher than President George W. Bush's were at the same point in their presidencies.

Told that Joe the Plumber had briefed congressional Republicans on Gaza, Bush launched into a defense of intellectualism. "I think it's okay to have a deeper understanding of things. I think it's okay to talk in three-syllable words. The world we're living in is incredibly complex," he told the magazine. "And simplifying things to the point where you're misunderstanding where we are as a nation isn't going to help people overcome their fears or give them hope that they can achieve great things. I don't get inspired by shameless populism."

Bush called conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh "a hugely important force for the conservative movement," but added that he was "more interested in elected officials, how they behave."

"I feel happy for Rush to get all this attention. He's one part of a mosaic of people and thought in the conservative movement," he said. "I don't think you can discount his importance. At the same time, he's not an elected official, so I think he has a different responsibility."

Asked by Esquire to name the leaders of the Republican Party, Bush included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, but did not mention 2012 GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin.

He discounted the idea he might run for president one day. "Frankly I don't wake up each day assuming I'm the solution to life's problems" - and said he was not upset by observers who say his last name would keep him out of the Oval Office: "It doesn't bother me. I feel blessed. I have a blessed life. I don't feel like life has been unfair at all. I got to be governor of a fantastic state. I got to do what I said I was going to do."


Filed under: Jeb Bush
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. James Davis

    Andy,

    You are right, Obama has done a lot more than Bush did in his 8 years. He has spent almost double what Bush did!

    July 9, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. Luke Brown

    This guy is a joke.

    If his brother had been honest with the American people about HIS agenda to embroil us in two hopeless and ill-conceived wars and bankrupt the country the process, he would have spent the last eight years boozing it up on a ranch in Texas nobody ever heard of.

    Jeb, get real. No one in this country wants to hear anything from anyone in your family for a very long time.

    July 9, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  3. alpha_nu_916

    this is the smart bush, right? yet he does not know the definition of socialism.

    July 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  4. NJ here

    Jeb Bush is about as irrelevant as the rest of his family. Shut up already!

    July 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  5. thanks

    You know what I know Jeb? Your brother is a criminal and an idiot who has possibly ruined the United States. You'd better pray Obama can save this nation. Jerk.

    July 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. christine

    ENOUGH from all the Bushes!!!!! they are NOT in a position to criticize anybody.....hee-haw

    July 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  7. Dee

    What happened to Jeb's "Family Values" Tour with Cantor and Romney???

    Who really cares about what he says?

    July 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Liam

    Like McCain never said anything bad about Obama? This is just pointless. As a Florida resident and Dem I can say that Jeb was really on top of things and did a decent job, but now he's just towing the party line. Republicans are in a bit of a panic.

    July 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  9. Enough

    Anyone but Obama would be better in 2012 – Even Hillary!!

    July 9, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. carlos

    Voter...you refer yourself as a life long democrat then you write: But the Dems did win on tactics alone, shouldn't you have said: WE DEMS........you are a rush ditto head getting paid less than the minimum wage to blog....stupid as stupid..........

    For your information, it is President OBAMA

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. HSNP

    Anybody named Bush really doesn't have a lot of political credibility.

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Fair is Fair

    pat c. said "coming from the brother of the worst president in history , i would not believe anything he says"
    _______________________

    This post isn't about Obama's brother.

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  13. Mitch

    Obama said he would lower taxes, fix healthcare, end the war in Iraq, tackle an energy policy and tackle the economic mess jeb's brother left us. Hey Jeb....what we elected is what we wanted...a leader to fix what your half wit brother did.

    GWB was elected twice...once because Jeb's state just happened to be the deciding factor....hmmmmm...and then the fear that Kerry couldn't handle al qaeda. The Bush family earned the contempt of the american people. Thanks Jeb for reminding us why.

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  14. Milton Connor

    Am I missing something here? Republicans are always using the word "socialism" and they don't know what's socialism. Whenever you see someone using the word socialism ask them to define it. I'm sure they don't know what it is and that's why I really don't respect all these Republicans that claim that the President is a socialist. They even say that he practices fascism. How stupid.

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. bobby

    jeb, like the rest of his family, is a joke at this point (poor ghwb). obama is doing pretty much what he ran on, with the exception of some transparency problems. "i don't know if he's a socialist"..is he out of his mind? there is nothing in any of his policies or policy proposals to indicate that he is any more of a "collectivist" (to use jeb's bs word) than any other president we've elected.

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Allen Hussein

    Hey Jeb;

    If your brother would have been honest about his agenda, he never would have been elected and we wouldn't be in this mess. Now go crawl back under your rock!

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  17. adam

    Jeb do not speak for me when you tell the media what Americans think, feel, and how we would react. You are clearly out of touch.

    July 9, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. Mary

    Jeb Bush should have given his brother so advice. two Bushes is enough.

    July 9, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Ed

    Boo Hoo.What a cry baby.

    July 9, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  20. Don in Albuquerque

    Let me see....Obama a socialist? How about your family being tyrants and tryantitas, facists, and responsible for murder on a world scale playing field. Don't worry Jeb, we will make CERTAIN that another Bush does not sit behind that Oval Office Desk.

    July 9, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Jack

    Hey Jeb, has you wife made any clothes buying trips to Europe lately and tried to sneak the purchases back into the US without paying the tax? I believe she thought she was above paying taxes, if I'm not mistaken. And how's your drug addict daughter doing? Has she tried to buy any oxycodone with forged perscriptions? I think you have your own problems to deal with at home.

    July 9, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Santa Cruz

    Everyone should read "Jeb: America's Next Bush" by S.V. Date. If you were not already concerned about the Bush agenda and their presumed entitlement to office, you will be if you read this.

    July 9, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  23. Don

    How surprising that a Bush would make a comment of "Who cares?".

    I guess that as long as their 10 % of the population isn't being impacted them really don't care what impacts the other 90% of the world around them.

    July 9, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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