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. TH

    Why should anybody continue to listen to the Bush family? They destoryed this country.

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Real Change

    And I don't know if Jeb Bush is a Fascist.

    It's neat calling each other names.

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. Truman Knows

    Jeb is another idiot in a family of idiots. His father and brother were failures as Presidents. Personally, I don't care what he thinks.

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  4. Laurie in Lawrence, KS

    If Jeb Bush is helping to "remake" the GOP, then we are assured Democratic leadership for a long time to come. Keep it up Jeb!

    July 9, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  5. Tex

    yes Jeb, he is, right out of the communist manifesto and the Karl Marx playbook. If it quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck then it must be a duck. quack, quack, quack

    July 9, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  6. Marc

    There isn't really a single thing that Obama has done that has helped our nation since being in office.

    He's spent trillions of dollars we don't have which will inevitably cause inflation, there is no other result possible.

    He's rewarded failure by bailing out business and irresponsible homeowners at the expense of those who are responsible and producers in society.

    He's attempting to destroy our health care system by nationalizing it and inevitably turning us into a single payer system where we are all numbers and denied treatment for all sorts of reasons. Not to mention that many treatments are just plain not allowed.

    He's going to raise taxes on hard working Americans to hand coverage to those who are not, including illegal aliens.

    The list goes on forever. He's not an American.

    July 9, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  7. Meka

    Apparently Jeb has missed the position of "INTELLIGENT AMERICANS---WE WANT A PRESIDENT WITH BRAINS"

    July 9, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. 30m-PA-Independent

    "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."

    That's right CNN. Why can't you get it through your thick heads that Obama is nothing special like you make him out to be?

    July 9, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Wow, how do these people get in positions of authoirty... there has to be a filter which is stronger than a last name.

    July 9, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  10. MissyRiver

    Did anybody believe that Jeb would say anything to back Obama???

    July 9, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. Shawn - GA

    Jeb is a good guy.

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. john in ga

    Jeb go home with your brother. Some of us were paying attention and with the acception of the financial crisis which would be much worse with mccain, he is doing exactly what he said in the campaign. I hope the bush name becomes the joke it deserves to be. Go play golf with the saudi's you will be fine.

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. Stacy from Leesburg, VA

    I don’t think President Obama was secretive about his agenda, in fact, I have a book that states his agenda and he is running it to the letter. There was nothing nefarious or sinister about President Obama’s plans, he laid them out and Americans voted in large numbers for President Obama over Senator McCain’s agenda. The fact that right-wing neoconservative fear mongering and name calling with a healthy dose of a non-existent plan (more of the same) lost the election speaks to the woeful state of the GOP in 2008-2009. The shift to the left in this country occurred because conservatism no longer was conservative. Foolish tax cuts, irresponsible deregulation, government expansion and a morally bankrupt world idealism sunk this country Jeb…go talk to your brother and he’ll tell you all about it.

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. Marc

    This Bush like all Bushs is a complete idiot. 1st the word socialist is a scare tactic. Like "RedChina", propaganda. Everyone is is comparing a national healthcare system. The middle of the road politicians compare with Canada, while morons like the bushes like to use Russia's national health system to compare. Lets look at the UK! $10 prescriptions regardless of the quantity or the drug name, also look at their state run hospitals, They're awesome, great doctors, great care..Jeb Bush take your lies elsewhere, like whatever hole your cousin crawled in..

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. John

    Hey Jeb, thanks for your comments. I especially want to thank you for helping your brother hijack the 2000 election and helping to create the current mess we are in. Please think about that when you get ready to slam Obama or anybody else. John Reith. Albany,NY.

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. RN in Ann Arbor

    Jeb who?
    who cares what this guy thinks? What secret plan does Obama have that he failed to talk about before the election? McCain lost because he showed poor judgment in picking Palin, he had no ideas about how to address the problems in this country (well, except for cutting taxes...) and he was in denial about problems we faced (remember his remark about how the economy was basically healthy?). Jeb continues to cast stones at Obama. The GOP had an economic plan they made a big deal about. That plan had no numbers in it and ran about 20-30 pages. The GOP now seems desperate to get every republican to say something bad about Obama. Jeb cannot even get facts straight about polling numbers. Guess that qualifies him to run for president as a republican.

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. strong

    Obama a socialist? Of course he is. In fact, he is a marxist.

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. HAHA

    Um, ok.

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  19. cate

    Wow, they have nowhere else to turn but to another Bush...you have got to be kidding...I guess Jeb was asleep during the whole election cycle because what President Obama has been doing is exactly what he said on the campaign trail...good luck with your spinning, however, it's not going to work...if Jeb thinks he or Palin will get in the White House, good luck as the American people know what their tactics are as we had them for 8 years!!! As far as the polls numbers go, Jeb wishes his brother had approval ratings like Pres. Obama...Jeb must be reading the Rasmussen poll which everyone who researches knows is owned in part by Fox News and by the Republicans...the American people have woken up, started researching and are leaving the R party in droves...sorry Jeb, your political days in office are over, so just keep on spinning!!! I live in FL and you were not as popular as they made you out to be!! So, go back to your oil money!!

    July 9, 2009 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. CMS

    Hey Jeb – crawl back under that rock – we don't care what you have to say.

    July 9, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. mark

    Gee, looks like yet another Bush has his eyes on the Oval Office. No thank you – the last one was enough. Best you can do, Jeb, is go up to Kennebunkport at family gatherings, stare at your brother and thank him for taking your shot.

    July 9, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. concerned citizen

    Like he said in his interview, about President Obama's popularity. WHO CARES!!!!!!

    At this point in our lives under a President who seems to care about the little man, and IS in a position to do something for the little man,,,,,,,, WHO CARES WHAT JEB BUSH THINKS...........

    July 9, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. PoliticsStink

    Why do we care what anyone associated with the least successful administration in recent history thinks of our current administration? Let Obama do his job. Let the current administration do their job.

    "Collectivist", huh? Yeah... working out problems through the action of several (aka teamwork) never worked for anyone!

    July 9, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  24. gl, From Pittsburgh

    Bush dismissed the idea that his party's policies were unpopular with most Americans.

    What a joke the Republcian party have become. You fools trying to say President Obama got elected becasue he lie to the American people. It is the complete opposite- President Obama got elected becasue of Bush policies and Bush and his Administration lying to the American people on a lot of things and one being the WAR IN IRAQ.

    I can not believe that Chency and Bush is trying to rewrite history, but they can't becasue the American people was not asleep this time around.

    July 9, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    According to the Oxford dictionary:

    Socialism – a political system in which the state has control of industries and services.

    We may not be completely there yet, but we're heading in that direction.

    Automobile industry... financial services... utility industry... healthcare.

    July 9, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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