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. Ryan Indy

    I love how Democrats have Bush Envy,,,,,of course I probably would too If I got beat by them in every election. Its pathetic how Democrats on here who still hate GW so much. The man is a Patriot and is pure Class but yet the Democrats (who got beat by him TWICE) act like 11 yr old spoiled brats when his name is brought up. Pathetic and Small people.

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. Lowell

    You may not know if Obama is a socialist, but most of us out here knows he's an American who got dumped with what your brother left. Trying to repair the damage and clean up the mess isn't socialism. He HAS to do something since your do-nothing brother and his administration put us in this mess in the first place. Action is better than inaction - remember what happened because Hoover didn't do anything with the Depression?

    Now, if you want to talk about the near dictatorship that your brother and Cheney set up that tried to undermine the Consitution and wreck this country from within, get on your debate shoes.

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  3. RealityKing

    Back in 2000 CNN was teamed with Gallup on its polling questions. Why did Gallup drop you CNN?? Could it be related to the shady polling questions from Keathing well managed focus groups???

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  4. Raymond Dellenger

    And you, Jeb Bush, are a the scion of a family of fascists who believe - quite unAmericanly - that our representative government exists primarily to stay out of your elitist control and private amassment of wealth.

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  5. chris24

    Just what we need another Bush.

    Go back to the family compound and hang
    out with your stupid brother.

    Never again.

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  6. Arlene Bailey

    It is so scarey to think that the USA might have shifted as far to the left as Obama and his crowd. I hope this last election was some kind of fluke and that the young will start to consider just what destruction such statist policies will do to our great country. The USA is now teetering on the edge of Europization which means that no country in that region is great any longer - all just the same as the others - so-so. Obama wants the USA citizenry to believe we are on a equal plane with all other countries of the world, which just is not truth, as we have been blessed by Almighty God to be the lead in the world so that we can evangelize the entire world that Jesus Christ is Lord, not Obama.

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  7. Anny

    Every word he said is the same as all the other Republicans......he doesn't want the President to be successful, he wants him to fail just like the rest of the GOP. The GOP is not for country they are for their Party first then maybe country.......they don't want to try anything new that might be better for this country.......JEB your brother George got us into this mess and all these wars.......it is going to take the Government to get us out of it......OBAMA would never have lost this election because NO ONE wanted another Republican in office so McCain didn't stand a chance after what your brother did to this country........and not to mention the choice of running mate (QUITTER PALIN)......this President hasn't been in office but 6 months, why don't you whinners shut up and lets see just what becomes of some of the things he has done will work for us........maybe you Rich people don't need health care, and a maybe your not worried about staying in your home......you know this country is made up of more middle class and struggling lower class than there is the Rich Class.......and we are the people that spoke out that we want CHANGE

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  8. J

    What a moron. If he was smart he would show leadership here and go off message and show that he can actually formulate his own opinion, but he is a 100% Republican moron.
    I don't understand why it makes you a bad Republican if you show a little independence and not fall into being just another mouth piece spouting the same old misinformation and lies.

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  9. FedUp

    Another Bush jostling for the limelight and for his share of the pie...It'll be a fool who votes for anyone from GWB's family again...there, I said it. GWB had 8 years and he made the biggest mess since the depression. No one can convince me that JB will be any different, simply because he'll surround himself with the family cronies and thugs!

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I think the former governor is incorrect. McCain was a lessor candidate. He showed that by his policies and his choice for VP. McCain might have been good during the 2000 campaign, but between then and the 2008 election, he slid down hill.

    As for collectivist, that isn't a bad thing either. We need to band together so that we can get things done. We need to come to an understanding that one person's actions effect everyone else. You can't do one thing that doesn't affect others.

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. Ohio Man

    Wow... and lil bush didn't lie about WMD ...and about the war prior to getting elected the 2nd term ...these guys crack me up... the Average middle class person with a $2,500 credit card bill can't pay that off in 6 months so why do they expect the economy to flip right side up after 7 months with a outrageous bill that was left on the white house desk.. Every1 is paying attention now to what’s going on but when lil bush was in office every1 was on vacation or sleep at the wheel...

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. conserve 56

    Obama is a shameless socialist.

    His writings and musings in college confirm his far left political philosophy, but Bush is correct in that calling him a socialist publicly will not benefit the conservative agenda. Unfortunately a majority of the American public could not properly define socialism, capitalism, marxism or any of the major polictical philosophies.

    People are basically interested in pocket book issues when they are affected personally. Obama's plans are beginning to have a personal affect on the individual's finances. The public will turn on Obama but unfortunately we cannot have a do-over on the 2008 election. We have to wait until 2012 to have another referendum on Obama.

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. Hugo Castrobama

    So we know know that the princess to the messiah wears expensive designer clothes and carries $6000 purses (during the Obama recession and double digit unemployment, no less).

    Where is the media outcry about this? They were apoplectic for weeks on end about the (comparatively modest) clothes borrowed and worn by Sarah Palin during the presidential campaign.

    Another typical state-controlled media double standard...

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  14. Jen

    I would say that Obama is pretty much doing everything he said he would do during his campaign. All Republicans can do is tear down but never have any good ideas themselves – Newt Gingrich is the is one of the leaders of the Republicna party? A liar and a hypocrite?

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  15. John Dezell

    This is just another stupid shallow Bush talking, haven't we had enough of the Bush's, I know I have

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  16. Rock

    Please. The Bush family has nearly ruined this country. It is time for them to just keep quiet. Very quiet and inconspicuous.

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. Chgo Democrat

    I wish someone would ask ole Jeb how his daughter is doing. One has to wonder if her rampant drug problems kept him from running for president. just a thought

    July 9, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. Rod from Indy

    What secret plan? To try to counter what your family has done to this country for twenty years -beginning with Reagan and your father prolonging bringing the S&L disaster to light so your father could be elected, while Neil stole $4 million from the public? You are another irrelevant Bush who doesn't have a clue what is best for this country or its people.

    July 9, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. tess

    someday the american people will wake up to the fact that a man named bush (hw, george and now jeb) all have more class in their little finger than every democrat combined on the planet! these men have served with honor, humble grace and never blamed others like the media and opponents for any thing said about them. what a breath of fresh air- it would be so good for our country to have jeb decide to run for the highest position in the usa – because now we are headed in the completely wrong direction and we need a real american to lead us out of this mess!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 9, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. Chad

    Wow, the ENTIRE family is just as dumb as the eldest brother!

    July 9, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  21. Tom in CA

    Who cares what a Bush says?

    No one! Because no one will vote for another Bush after Scrub's eight wasted years!

    July 9, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. JJ -ATLANTA/ TORONTO

    Like anyone would like to follow the dumb policies of your dumb brother !!!
    You just need hush up....
    After all you have done against this country. Please have some considerations ...

    July 9, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  23. Andrea M.

    Do we really need yet ANOTHER Bush giving opinions on our country or our President ? I think we've had enough of this clan !!!!

    July 9, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  24. Duck Fallas

    Right on, Bush! Government should create problems, not solve them.

    Palin-Bachman 2012

    July 9, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  25. Jinny Lee

    And Jeb's last name is? Nothing more to say.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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