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. Troy from NJ

    Jeb buddy, we have heard and seen enough from your family to last us a life time. It was your state debacle that gave us your brother, so please shut up and go fishing!!!

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. Sandra, Atlanta

    I will still take Obama on Jeb's brother George! I'm not particularly impressed by Jeb either.
    He comes out and says that Obama was dishonest. That's a very far stretch of the imagination. At least he hasn't hidden what he is doing like George did. If you want to get into the 'dishonest' conversation, we can go there.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. Sunny

    What right does this corrupt, good-for-nothing but get his idiot father in president's office thru corruption, person has to say about this great person in office? Why do people like Jeb who looks smart till they are quiet and then have to open their mouth to remove all the doubts? Stupid and Egoistic father, same son.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. Mike

    No elected official would ever get elected if they told everyone their "secret agenda" during the elections. That's why they have people telling them what they should and shouldn't say.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. Simon

    What a moron. All of this from a "Man" who could not even take care of the Citizens of Florida (I won't say his own state because he was not born here, I was) when they were in need from hurricane disasters. I think he should keep his yaps shut and go back to the farm.

    Comparing Obama to his Brother is like comparing Ghandi to Rasputin.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. FloridaRes

    Jeb Bush was a miserable governor of my state. He pushed the conservative evangelical religious agenda and mixed it with governing our state. Remember Terry Schiavo – he used his brother the Pres Bush to get Congress back in session to stop what Schiavo's husband's wishes were based on Florida State judicial decisions. He even tried to get the State Police to storm the nursing home and remove Terry – all for political purposes based on religion. It was an appalling side show and after Terry's death, the autopsy proved that Terry's brain was just an amorphous gel incapable of thought or action. Her family should be ashamed but Jeb should be more ashamed. Jeb – stay out of politics – it isn't going to work. Jeb thinks that he can change history by just saying things (e.g. poll numbers of W vs Obama.) Won't happen – there is no comparison between W (can't make a sentence that makes sense – reminds me of Palin) and Obama (honest, articulate, trusted by us and by the world.)

    So Goodbye Jeb – don't come back to Florida.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  7. Zman

    Nobody is suprised that you your borther and your father do not know anything but we all know that your are not smart at all

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. tidho

    The consistent drop in Obama's aproval ratings, and more specifically his policy ratings indicate that Jeb may be correct. If America had really known what Obama wanted to do they probably wouldn't have voted for him. As more people realize what he's doing his ratings reflect that.

    Still GWB was so horrendously unpopular, Obama probably could have burned a flag on election day morning and still been elected.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  9. Diane Dagenais Turbide

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

    reaction : Bravo! you have just put your finger on the main problem from a lack of attitude...everybody thinks life's problems is somebody else's problems because my life is already blessed. Well guess what! So is mine! Everybody should wake up, get up and realize that all life problems are your problems too! The easiest thing to do in life is not to ask any questions on how to resolve any poblems thinking and wishing they will go away...well guess what! All the problems are still here even if many lives are blessed!

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  10. Frankie

    A "defense of intellectualism"? BUSH?? Please. The Bushes are finished, thank God, as a political dynasty, and Jeb's just ticked he's not going to get his chance, thanks to that demented rodeo clown he has for a brother. He refers to Obama's "secret plan," but let's remember all the "secret plans" hatched before and during Dubya's Presidency, okay? We need to pull together now, not indulge in tantrums and sour grapes. GROW UP, JEB, AND CLIMB OUT OF THE SANDBOX.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  11. Harry

    More typical hate speech from the Bush family.

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  12. rodeo

    John McCain was the Republicans only hope and that was due to his veteran status and POW record. There was no way any Republican could have won in 2008 on issues. Jeb Bush is just wrong!

    July 9, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Chipster

    People are accusing Obama of being a socialist because he supports the social programs (Head Start, Social Security, etc) that they all claim to hate but yell if any of them are cut. Socialism is something far different than social programs that people elect their officials to support.

    But then, Obama has been accused of bankrupting the country and bailing out banks and the auto industry. All of those things occurred during the last Administration. Where were these folks October 2008 when Bush signed the bailout? Where were they during the "borrow and spend" mania of the past 8 years? I'm glad they're finally paying attention but it's a little late. We're in a hole that will take time to climb out.

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  14. jack

    Why is CNN even commenting on something from a political hack? For that matter, why I am? "Jeb" (HeeHaw) is a nightmare – in fact, all the Bushes are nightmares . . . 8 years of economic failures of his brother he is criticizing Obama?

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. Todd M

    Hey Jeb, not being a collectivist didn't keep you from sticking the governments nose into the Terri Schiavo matter. You simply ignored all of hte doctors and courts and thought you were the solution to that life problem.
    You would do well to keep walking away.

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  16. Bob in Pa

    Collectivist is just another word to define a communist.

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. David

    Just goes to show Republican thought. "The people? WHAT THEY THINK? WHO CARES!"

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Kajaan

    it is begenning to smell again......another Bush speaking polotics....!!!!
    The last one left us as a "joke" to the rest of the world !!!!

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  19. NotaFool

    Why is he comparing his brothers popularity with President Obama?

    Bushes, have ruin the country. For 8 years all we have is the housing bubble!!

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Dave in Albuquerque

    Another politician showing the surest sign of presidential ambitions: saying inherently silly things.

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  21. harvey

    so there you have it – lies about Obama's popularity vs. his brother, highly praises nut-job Rush Limbaugh, and states that Obama would not have been elected if he had been honest with Americans. 6 months into his term vs. 8 years of his brother – who, by the way, lied when he said he was a compassionate conservative, lied about weapons of mass destruction, lied about torture, lied about exposing a CIA agent, and lied about firing federal prosecutors. and Jeb, by the way, your brother was NOT ELECTED to his first term – he WAS APPOINTED by the Supreme Court. you're just another doofus offspring of a famous father. we don't care what YOU think!!

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  22. Michael in Houston

    Good. Then he can be one of the 7 out of 10 republicans who support Palin. Which actually sounds like a low number to me. I would have thought more republicans would support Palin. More like 9 out of 10.

    It seems the republican party is stuck on Bush and Palin.

    July 9, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. IndyVoter

    WHAT??! Um...excuse me Jeb, but I think that his many town hall meetings, his debates, his 60 Page manifesto on his campaign web page outlining his plans for every issue literally from A to Z made it plain and simple what he planned to do, and he's doing EXACTLY that! Don't try to act like people didn't know what they were voting for...He was more open and transparent and remains so that any candidate/President in our history. We knew who and what we were voting for and are still proud of it!

    Keep doing a great job President Obama! We the American people that aren't listening to every lie and non-constructive criticism and insult that the Republicans have lobbed at you since day one, support you!

    July 9, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. Brain Doc

    Hopefully we Americans recognize idiots for who they (and their families) are. I don't expect much from the Bush family, especially considering their track record. Hey, here's a thought, let's play "Find where the MONEY went?" with the "contractors" from the last administration. Start with that Jeb. Oh I forgot, you and your croonies know where the money is, let's not focus on that, cause then your brother would be indicted.

    July 9, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  25. LetsGetReal

    You got to love the use of the term socialist when referring to Obama's policies. The economy started to spiral downward a year before when Jeb's brother was at the helm. The Republicans want capitalistic forces to shape the market. Left with that theory, we would need a crystal ball to see what our country would be like today. I think we would be looking at 20-30% unemployment rate or more because most of our financial system and large corporations would have failed. If they stayed in business, they would be own by foreign investors. If the Republicans want to see less government involvement, tell them to get their wealthy friends and bail out all the companies that have gotten government assistance. If not, they need to get on the bandwagon and start working at finding better solutions instead of criticizing everything that is being done.

    July 9, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
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