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. katekate

    John McCain lost because people were sick and tired of the Republican agenda. Period. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Rove, and the rest broke faith with Americans and destroyed the Republican party. Selecting a lightweight like Palin as running mate to an aging presidential candidate didn't help, either. What this country needs is intelligent leadership, not mavericks, not hotheads, not leaders who are in the pockets of big oil and big banking, and certainly not laissez faire capitalists who remove all the economic safeguards protecting US citizens.

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. Alan

    I think you can hear a collective UH OH coming from the American public as Obama' s true colors are showing.

    How can they say they "misread" the economy? Using the same standards used on Bush for the war, Obama lied about the economy in order the get his spending bill passed. (That is not working by the way)

    America lets face it, we have elected a dud once again! You would think that out of 300 million people we could find at least one smart, honest, and sane person to lead us.

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  3. Simon in BC

    First of all, anyh of Obama's so called "solialist" policies like the stimulus package or "taking over" banks and auto companies were only brought about as a response to 30 years of Republican mismanagement that was putting them all into bankruptcy. This only started to happen during the last few months of the election. And it was Bush who provided the for 700 + billion in "socialist" aid to the banks.

    Second of all, it was McCain who kept accusing Obama of going to raise taxes, not the other way round.

    Republicans – lying and spinning and blaming the other guy for what they did, as usual.

    Go on Jeb, run for President in 2112. You and Palin or Limbaugh would make a great ticket.

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  4. guesswhats4dinner

    You know this might not be a bad stance for the Republicans to take. He's not demeaning to the Democratics. He actually might be a good front runner, well except for his name. I think this country has had enough Bushies. Maybe he should have been the one in the oval office as oppose to W.

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  5. brs

    okay Jeb, so Obama "made it seem as though McCain would raise taxes", well McCain tried to make it seem that Obama was a terrorist...face the facts the people aren't buying what the GOP is selling

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  6. BJNJ

    The question of being a socialist is still open but the polls show our rock star is not a commander-in-chief. The term wuzzy comes to mind. Our guys are dying in Afganistan and the wuzzy is busy kissing ass. All show, no go. All sizzle, no steak. Comeon Obama, get your priorities straight.

    BJNJ

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  7. Greg

    Crawl back under your Rock with your brother. Bush's don't matter anymore..

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  8. Darren

    what is it with Americans fear of any social or collective measures ? Why not join most of the rest of the world and provide a safety net for your people in terms of health care etc ? Then you may actually see less crime with such measures

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  9. dave

    This is the sick egotistical response I expected...very sad. Hope he got cheered up with his beach front homes and all his goodies that he's received just for being born into such a family, and such a country...wonder if he could have accomplished the same if he were born in Mexico...

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. WaitandSeeIndie

    I would say that Obama is a Socialist. For years the Federal Government has been overstepping its' Constitutional authority and this administration is taking the centralization of power under the Federal Government to an extreme. (Nationalized banks, car companies and the push for nationalized health care are some examples.) I think it was Thomas Jefferson that said, "The government that is strong enough to give you everything is also strong enough to take it all away."

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. Steve

    Mr. Jeb Bush:

    Let me be the one to break the news to you. I watched all of the debates and can tell you Obama was being up front about what his intentions were if elected. You come into this with a biased opinion, although politically conservative with your word choice. And by the way, "who cares about the approval ratings?" How about all of the American people, that's who cares... oh that's right, I forgot about the whole Florida vote recount incident where your brother ironically won the presidency because you don't care about your constituents... It all comes full circle!

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. RealityKing

    "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."

    Of course this is not the case with other.., more scientific polls, such as Gallup and Rasmussen poll.

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. kgeukes

    You've got to be kidding, right? This lame duck wanna be is as bad as his brother!!!! Does he seriously think anyone is gonna listen to his drivel?? The fact that he thinks Mush Limpnoid is important to the people lets me know he is a lunatic!!! Mush is an overpaid paranoid fool like his brother, Glenn Beck. And Mr.Bush is in the same category as these 2 fools!!!!

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. Steve in Denver

    Wow. I always thought Jeb was the smart one. Obama won on a secret agenda? Like health care reform? Reversing the failed trickle down, borrow and cut taxes economic policies of Reagan, Bush I and Bush II? Ending the war in Iraq? Restoring diplomacy to our national security tool box? Restoring regulatory oversight of financial entities? Ending torture? Closing Gitmo?

    Yup. He sure fooled us. Didn't say a thing in his campaign about any of this. Completely hoodwinked us.

    I guess Jeb isn't so different from W after all. What an ignorant thing to say.

    July 9, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Tom C

    Jeb Bush does not get it. One of the main reasons his party lost was the mistrust the people had in all of these capitalistic, greedy corporations manipulations of his party to make more money. His party is 100% for private enterprise. Private enterprise is great, as long as there is checks and balances. The thought that if cororations make huge profits then they will take care of employees and keep costs down is a myth. 1. Oil companies, price per barrel went down to $35 and gas was still $1.50 a gallon. 2. As gas prices went down, all other prices for commodities stayed up. Example, food, plastics, household goods, clothes. Not until the public stopped paying these high prices did prices go down. Unchecked capitalism does not work, and the public wanted change.

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. Rogan

    How pleasant to hear a 'name' politician of either party step back from the rhetoric and speak sensibly when ask for an opinion of the opposition!

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  17. Michael I Hastings Minnesota

    I would rather have a President spend money on the ACTUAL citizens of this country then to enrich the likes of Haliburton

    The GOP practises socialism all the time – just there clients are corporite america

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  18. Mark

    Well Jeb,
    Who cares what you think? You were beat out for the presidency by the mental runt of the family.

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  19. Fort Lauderdale

    Obama's agenda was clear throughout his campaign. Apparently, former Governor Bush was not watching, or listening. Obama's promise was to transform government. He is certainly trying. But transforming government by making it bigger and bigger and bigger isn't so popular with the people in this economy. The people want(ed) a lot of his change, but they, we, understand we can't afford to pay for it. Nevertheless, Republicans better come up with a new set of ideas because the decline of the United States as an industrial and financial power is still attributed to the policies of the Bush Administration.

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  20. Jeff

    I find it fascinating that he's criticizing Obama for continuing his own brother's economic policies. Obama is nothing but a Bush that can pronounce, "nuclear", correctly.

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  21. Teri

    Who cares what Jeb Bush has to say? Whenever a dunce speaks, I never listen. Whenever someone who gets elected into office simply because of his last name, I surely won't l sten. Jeb Bush says President Obama would not have been elected had America known his agenda? Heck, his father, his brother nor he would have been elected had Americans known why lay in their devious hearts. President Obama was elected because America was sick and tired of being conned and lied to for so many years, and we wanted a change. President Obama IS that change. It's only been 6 months – Americans are giving Obama a chance, it's the Republican party who won't give him a chance. Each time the majority of Americans see Republicans crying and moaning about our current President and disrespecting him, that just pushes us further and further away from the Republican party.

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  22. joel palmer

    "Joe the Plumber briefed congressional republicans"

    Right there!

    That's all you need to know about the GOP...

    Losers

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. John

    Well, his brother wouldn't have been elected if he hadn't thrown the election for him so his word ain't exactly honorable.

    July 9, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  24. Roger in Atlanta

    I find it nothing short of laughable when republicans throw out the socialist word. the only reason that out government now has to be as involved in so may areas of the private sector right now is the previous REPUBLICAN administration stood for 8 years as corporate america raped the country in search of ever growing profits with no regard to how the collective effect would benefit of harm the country as whole. All this crap about how government is evil in that government is the problem. WE are the government. WE elect the government and if the government doesn't work effectively for US then WE have no one to blame but OURSELVES because WE decide who governs US.

    July 9, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. Michael in Atlanta

    "Frankly I don't wake up each day assuming I'm the solution to life's problems".

    Jeb, you can either want to make a difference, or you can pretend you want to make a difference. Sounds like you should go back to sleep.

    July 9, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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