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. John in Rochester MN

    Regarding Jeb's opinion, I think he said it best: "First of all, who cares?"
    His opinion really doesn't matter. Plus, what "secret plan"? He sounds like one of those wingnuts that thinks Obama is secretly a Muslim or something.

    July 9, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. Are you kidding me?

    Hey Jeb,

    Were you in a coma during the eight years of your brothers disasterous rein?

    Did you speak to John Mc Cain at all regarding his barely literate V.P. choice that forced independent voters toward Obama?

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Jordan

    "….He [Obama] made it appear like McCain was going to raise taxes..." What election were you watching?

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  4. Susan

    And we might listen to another Bush family member - WHY? Haven't we suffered enough under their reign(s)? Jeb Bush's opinions mean NOTHING to me!

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. PK California

    Who cares what ANY Bush has to say! "assuming I'm the solution to life's problems".........sure sounds like he thinks he has the answers! He should have passed them on to his brother and we wouldn't be in this mess!!!! The best people avaiable in this country are trying their best to solve its problems and every Republican is there to find fault! Just once, I would like to hear, "let's get behind the new administration and heal our wounds". That atttude just might get a few of them in office. The Republicans are going down the tubes, fast! Finding fault with EVERY SINGLE THING, isn't helping. As someone said, "How's that working for you?"

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  6. James Baker

    Jeb, please back off. Your brother is war criminal. your family had stolen at least 3 billions for US government!

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  7. rt

    Who is Jeb Bush? Brother of the joker from Texas?

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. bob

    please no more bushs - no more interviews-governor of the most disfunctional state in the union

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  9. F-Dog

    Jeb needs a dose of reality.

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. barbara campbell

    Not only does Jeb Bush have a wife who was convicted of smuggling foreign goods through Customs, he has two brothers who have done more to ruin America than just about anyone in US history (Cheney, Limbaugh, FOX news included). We all know the destruction caused by the George W. Bush administration. How many people remember Neal Bush's lead role in the Savings and Loan crash, wiping out the savings of many Americans while Neal walked away a rich man.

    Good luck with trying to move up the political ladder, Jeb.

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. Josie

    Good Lord. Jeb is bitter and doesn't even understand that the American people were tired of being completely embarrassed about having his brother as president. His father was the one that said "No new taxes" and went back on his word. Obama's done nothing of the sort. There's been no secret plan. Good God. If people had only known Bush/Rove/Cheney's secret plan prior to election...well, I hope things would have been different, but a lot of Americans have a pretty vague understanding of what's good for them.

    July 9, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Virginia

    I hope this remaining Bush isn't planning a run for president. He has as much chance as Palin, which is slim to none. As a resident of Florida where he was governor, I know how he ran a two layered system of government. Top layer was concern for the citizens and doing what was right for the state. Lower layer was doing as he pleased and trying to circumvent the wishes of citizens. Think 'signing statements' of his illustrious brother while he was president. When we voters passed a law reducing class size in schools, he said nothing in public. But overheard by a mic he didn't know was open, Bush said he had a devious plan to kill it. This man is as bad as his brother, only is a little smarter and hides it better.

    July 9, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. dennisk

    Man, is this guy full of crap. Oh, that's right... he's a Bush.
    If Jebediah thinks he's got a shot at the White House, let me clue him in–this Democrat would vote for Sarah "Where Am I?" Palin before I'd vote for him.

    July 9, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  14. Yeah, right!

    This guy should be in prison with his brother simply for being related to the cretin. Who cares what he "thinks"? People claim he's the "smarter one" of the two, although being "smarter" than bush the small ain't no big accomplishment. Most chimps meet that standard

    July 9, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  15. Fritz

    Jeb Bush making comments about another politician? This is akin to Al Capone complaining about criminals who commit tax fraud. Bush has the really "bad" actuality of having a brother like he does and, to get ANY publicity, will say ANYTHING, ANYWHERE, to get his name in the press..........

    Jeb, .America has had enough of your dad, your brother, and the entire Bush clan.................................live life on the water, the beautiful ocean(s) – as your bro' would say, and let the professionals do their jobs...........bottom line: you had you chance, as did your family, and failed miserably....................just let GO!

    July 9, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  16. Jonas

    I think we heard enough from Bush family over the past decade. Let them go away quitely where they belong – into the past and has beens. The voters have decided that a year ago and no need to resurrect them every once in a while. Does anyone honestly care what Jeb has to say???

    July 9, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  17. Rougeole

    But I do know that Jeff Bush is an idiot.

    July 9, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. Enlightened Voter

    Well we do know Jeb your brother was definitely a dictator.

    July 9, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  19. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a smart man, when ask Bush would not answer the question of whether he agreed with the assessment of some congressional Republicans that the president is a socialist. Because he know it's not true.

    July 9, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. Mix

    Finally- somene in politics with the nads to speak the truth!

    July 9, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. RandomIntellect

    And so begins the run of Gov. Jeb Bush in 2012. Laugh at me now. Then come talk to me in less that three years. And I will have an "I told you so" in my shirt pocket.

    I have to admit, that would be interesting, the media would have a field day.

    July 9, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. Kim

    With the way his brother helped ruin our country....I would keep my mouth shut

    July 9, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  23. ch

    Who cares what Jughead thinks?

    What we know for sure is that Obama has the intellectual capability and curiosity to navigate us out of the mess that GW Bush got us into.

    That’s why he was elected (in a Landslide) over the know nothing, erratic, amateurish McCain/Palin ticket last November.

    July 9, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  24. true daughter of the american revolution

    you think if George W had been honest about his agenda regarding Iraq, we would have voted him in?
    i think not.
    this is another example of republican irrelevancy.

    July 9, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  25. ronnie

    Hasn't the Bush family destroyed this country enough? They have raped, robbed and pillaged and we’re not having any more of it. Enough! We don’t want to ever see anything like a Bush near the white House. You have ruined this country. So Jeb, do us all a favor and sit down and shut up! And please don’t try any more of your scams. The American people are on to you guys and we’re just waiting for your brother George and Cheney to be charged with war crimes.

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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