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. Mark in El Paso

    Another Bush getting ready to run. God help us.

    July 9, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. come on CNN!

    Very smart comments.

    July 9, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  3. Willy Brown

    Thanks Jeb. We all know Obummer is a loser.

    July 9, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Enough!!!!!!!!!

    Was this question ever asked when the other forty-three men were presidents? NO, no and no. So give it a rest CNN.

    July 9, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. enought already

    George Bush’s grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the Great Depression."

    Then, after the war, Prescott Bush was instrumental in helping to launder Nazi loot for ...

    This family is still in American politics.

    July 9, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. Bev - NYC

    Thanks for the belly laugh CNN, a Bush talking about honesty, that rich. I don't know what election the former governor was watching, but I knew exactly what the Obama's agenda was, close Gitmo, get out of Iraq, exit Afghanistan without making the situation worse, reform healthcare, impose taxes on those who should be paying their fare share, restore the image of America in the rest of the free world and generally clean up any other turds left by your brother and Mr. Cheney.
    Unless you and the other Republicans are willing to roll up your and help with the clean up, you shouldn't heckle the guy with the broom, it's bad form.

    Maybe you should run in 2012 Jeb, your "family values" are as equally disturbed as Governor Palin. But hey, you have 2 years to live in the same residence as your wife, get your daughter off drugs and writing her own perscriptions, and keeping your cover boy son from stalking ex-girlfriends and breaking into their homes. Clean up your own glass house .

    July 9, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. changing my screen name to see if it helps getting my comments posted

    "...He believes that through collective action, through government, you can solve more problems."

    So tell me Jeb, what are your thoughts on the government trying to solve our problems with terrorists by going to Iraq with our government run military?

    July 9, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. David

    Not to mention Jeb is also using the typical Republican bully tactic – "anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot, too stupid to understand three-syllable words."

    July 9, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. vince

    I'd like to ask Jeb, how was Obama dishonest about his agenda?
    He said he'd start a phased 16 month drawdown from Iraq but would take into account the conditions. That's what happened.
    He promised to reform health care – It's in progress.
    He promised a tax cut to those earning less than 250k – Delivered.
    He promised to tackle Global Warming – In progress.
    He promised to restart US foreing policy and use diplomacy – Its happening.

    I think what scares people like Jeb, is that Obama is actually following through on his campaign promises.

    July 9, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. Brooker Buckingham

    GOP sour grapes. Or in the case of Jeb, sour Florida oranges.

    July 9, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. What's in a name?

    It's not his last name that will keep him from getting elected, it's his interviews...

    July 9, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. james right

    jeb bush was the worst gov ever for florida, he is posturing for pres, don't be fooled by another ignorant, arrogant buse 2 is too many

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  13. gl, From Pittsburgh

    First we have to deal with a month of hearing from the Chency clan and now we have to hear from the Bush clan.

    Republicans are not smart enough to know that these two names along with Sara Palin will bring President Obama approving rate high any becasue all three of them scare that H- out of Most American people.

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Proud Vet

    I continue to be amazed at how ignorant the Republicans have become. They spend all of their time attacking others without ever offering any solutions. I want to hear solutions! Idiots like Bush are the reason I am no longer a Republican.

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  15. Dee, 1 Vote

    Jeb, 8 yr, your Brother and Cheney did not help us! Pres Obama is HELPING not fight you or the GOP!

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  16. rev

    "I Don't Know" seems to be the Bush family mantra. These bozos don't know much of anything.

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  17. Rocknrico

    Jeb, go away! The last thing we need is another Bush throwing a monkey wrench into world affairs. This mess we're in is YOUR family's fault!

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  18. Wes

    The crediblity level of a Bush is zero.

    Why don't these GOP incompetents who led us into the Bush War and allow corporate free sailing just shut the heck up.

    They light the fire, the house burns and they attack Barack Obama for throwing water trying to put out a fire he didn't start in the first place.

    No wonder only 22% of Americans now identify with these people.

    And 72% of the GOP would vote for SARAH PALIN for President? That is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the party of No is at best very, very clueless and totally lost from reality.

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  19. GG

    It must run in the family...this man is an IDIOT! Just like his brother.

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  20. Jack

    Having lived in Florida under this guy – the best I can say is that he is smarter than his brother......

    July 9, 2009 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. Mark

    I don't know if Jeb Bush is a fascist.

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  22. bigTXoil

    please, not another bush........we won the american revolution for a reason....this country is not a monarchy, some of us are lucky to still have the shirts on our backs after bush & cheney

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  23. smokey

    All I can say, he has alot of nerve criticizing anyone, after the mess his brother left behind..These people kill me with all of their so called opinions, which they would do us a favor by keeping them to themselves..Once the party of No speaks !! and says nothing !!!

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  24. denny

    Just a another sorry comment from a sad family .

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  25. kimmyrn

    Seriously I'm sick of hearing from anyone by the name of Bush or Cheney. The previous administration lied to the American people over and over again for 8 years so can we stop asking them to give their opinions on our current president. Not one of them is going to be positive.

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
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