January 26th, 2012
04:39 PM ET
2 years ago

Jeb Bush offers no endorsement, but a warning

(CNN) - Five days ahead of his state's primary – an election in which he promises to remain neutral – former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday cautioned the contenders to soften their assaults, avoid a "circular firing squad," and connect personally with swing voters in the most diverse primary yet.

"If we do nothing to try to reach out to voters that believe in our values but feel turned off by the rhetoric, that is the dumbest thing in the world to do," he said in an interview to air on CNN's "John King, USA," when asked if a breach is forming between Latino voters and the GOP.

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His warning to "not go over the top in his attacks" was primarily aimed at former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who continued the sparring between himself and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by calling his rival "grotesquely hypocritical." The jabs exchanged between the two leading contenders has only increased as the campaign moved to Florida, with the two-man jousting largely overshadowing attention paid to the two other candidates former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

"I think there's a point past which Republicans and independent voters get turned off by this fierce primary spilling over into personal attacks," he continued, adding "I would hope that both Gov. Romney and Speaker Gingrich would stay away from that."

Both his father and brother were former presidents, but Bush said that if he, too, had been interested in a White House run, this election season would have been the ripest. Earlier in January, former first lady Laura Bush said she wished Jeb, her brother-in-law, would run, saying, "We wanted him to this time."

"Never say never, but in all honesty, this was probably the right time for me, in terms of my age and just the opportunity that existed but there are personal and family reasons that made that impossible," Bush said in the interview. "I hope in 2016 I'll be working on the reelection of a Republican president."

He said he has both spoken with and emailed Romney to express his decision to remain neutral.

The field without him includes "well qualified candidates," Bush said, who must emphasize the relevancy of their messages to Florida's significant and swing Latino voters next Tuesday. He is co-chair of the Hispanic Leadership Network Conference, a co-sponsor of Thursday evening's debate on CNN.

"The growing populations in all of the swing states are Hispanic voters," he said. "This is an over-simplification, but I don't think a party can aspire to be the majority party if it's the old white guy party."

While his advice to Gingrich is to tone down the attacks, Bush suggested Romney should connect more personally with voters.

"His challenge is also to show his heart," he said of Romney "He has a great record, and he's been a successful man in every way, and I think people can relate to that if he expresses himself in the right way."

But Bush said he intends to endorse no candidate in the race, instead allowing one "earn" his victory.

"I've already voted, I voted absentee," he told John King, "and thank God it's a secret ballot, John."

Also see:

Obama shares intense encounter with Arizona governor

Gingrich shoots for the moon

Bachmann will run for reelection


Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Jeb Bush • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (122 Responses)
  1. Voice of Reason

    Jeb Bush has always been the yin to his brother's yang. He's a lot more diplomatic, and apparently a lot smarter. And of course hasnt got a chance in the GOP because he would rather do what he thinks is right than toe the party line.

    Sigh. When will they learn?

    January 26, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  2. John the Historian

    We all know Romney will be the candidate and Bush One endorsed Romney so who cares about Jeb. Jeb will never be president because his brother and father ruined the family name. Bush One turned into a theocrat and Bush II was only a puppet of neocon Cheney and his Halliburton war profits.

    January 26, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Iamnotfooled

    Why in the world would we elect another Bush.

    January 26, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    For a guy who claims to be Reagan incarnate, Gingrich constantly breaks Reagan's "11th commandment" of Republicans don't criticize each other ...

    January 26, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  5. bentley76

    Jeb Bush is a creep.
    He was responsible for the vote rigging in the 2000 that put his brother in power. He has no legitimacy whatsoever. He needs to stay out of primary politics and let these clowns shoot themselves in the foot like they always do.

    January 26, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  6. Donaldbain

    The truth is that the Republicans want to leave Obama in the Whitehouse. This way they can blame him for the economy and the long drag out of the Bush tailspin in an attempt to regain the presidency in 2016. They told Jeb to sit still and wait it out til then. This is the only way to explain the miserable string of contenders they are fielding this year.

    January 26, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Truth and yada yada: "But this is exactly why the LSM is having so many of these "debates"!

    The GOP requested all these debates; the media broadcasts them because of the ad revenue. What's laughable is the GOP thought all these debates would be a way to keep their candidates and all their lies about and slams against President Obama in the headlines, hoping to keep their ignorant, hateful base all fired up to vote Republican come November 2012. Instead, all these "debates" have revealed what a silly bunch of nasty, thin-skinned, lying jerks the GOP considers to be "their best."

    America has seen loud and clear what a pathetic bunch of losers the GOP thinks should lead our country, offering nothing but economic, military and foreign policies that are PROVEN FAILURES, along with anger, fear, hatred and division.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    January 26, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    ronpaulfreedom1: "After Terry Schiavo's Murder in Florida ..."

    She was BRAIN DEAD; the autopsy proved this conclusively. Her husband was trying to honor her wishes; nothing more. And for a guy who supposed believes in freedom, why would you ever think the GOVERNMENT should make this kind of private decision?

    You're a hypocrite of the first order – and too dim to realize it.

    January 26, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  9. Gee

    Liberals....I hear all of this whining about how disrespectful people are to Obama and that they should respect the presidency but all you have to do is mention a Bush name and all of the liberal hipocrits step forth and spew hate and insults towards two other presidents and in my recollection, Bush got treated WAY worse by the liberal media and Bush haters than Obama ever has. Comparatively speaking OBUMMER has had a cake walk...

    January 26, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  10. rem43fl

    BREAKING NEWS!! No one is listening to you Mr. Bush! I remember a Monty Python sketch from the 1970's wherein the Commander of the Regiment calls in all his men, and is told there all here except the one company. "Which one is it?" he inquires. "It's the Scottish Suicide Company, Sir. They're practicing..."
    Or to quote a famous person of insight: "We have met the enemy and they are Us!"

    January 26, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  11. ConservastiveGuy

    Dole is a hardnosed SOB and since he is too old to run why not just screw with someone. The reason Dole is mad, a Congressman up staged him, told him no and got better press. Bob's retired and all these years he has shut up tells me someone got to him in the last couple of days because Newt is on a roll. So dirty Chicago politics has broadened its base??? Super now the idiot in charge is looking better and better for a 2nd go around you clowns! Shut speak to the issues and stop beating each other up. Remember, and it seems you guys cannot, BHO was never vetted ever??? 1st question to BHO at the 1st debate is we want 'a see all the papers everyone else has to provide or the debate is off. Enough said!!!

    January 26, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  12. Anthony

    Ask if any candidate would sign into law a bill overturning Roe vs. Wade and end a womens right to choose. Yes or No.

    January 26, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. The GOP still doesn't get it!

    Why is it that republicans (or "Conservatives" as they wish to call themselves) in these blogs hate the truth when told? The republican party as an organization that is dying off. Slowly, but is fading away. The people who think thery are repugs are just acting in anger because the president is black and nothing more.

    You claim ridiculous things about the current president without facts, just because your inbred friend told you, or you heard it from Faux. You don't care to learn anything, read and research facts and make your own decisions. You repugs keep posting stupid baseless comments, and I keep wondering; If you claim to be the a superior class in this country, that believes and upholds these great "values", why can't you learn to read and educate yourselves?

    Republicans have lost credibility in this country very fast, not because of the growing number of non-white voters, but becuase your ideology is no longer valid. Your pary leaders are nothing more than the angry white farmer who hates minorities but loves cheap labor. The party are represented by uneducated well-dressed criminals with no class. Think of Gov. Brewer's disrespectful PMS trantrum towards the POTUS.

    If she FAILED to recognize the highest figure of authority among her rank, why should the people of AZ be represented by such mandril?

    January 26, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Wow, our ignorant little feces spreader, "Truth" really stepped in it this time with his big whopper about the "LSM". It's almost like there's been a programming or wiring malfunction among the extreme right wingnuts. Karl Rove had everything so carefully planned and choreographed, with all the right propaganda and trigger words, when suddenly it all fell apart. The old lies are failing, so they spew new ones while flailing around in a fact-free bubble of words they twist to mean the opposite.

    January 26, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  15. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Jeb is smart not to endorse anyone at this point. He is likely the smarter of George H. W. Bush's son because he didn't choose to run for president. I don't know his full record, but I am glad that he is staying out of the race.

    January 26, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  16. FactChecker

    The Republicans planned a long string of debates to show that their party is full of good candidates and ideas. It has done just the opposite.

    January 26, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  17. Randy, San Francisco

    Jeb Bush is wrong! This is a debate and not a love fest. Candidates owe it to the electorate to show their mettle and character. Those who can't stand the heat should leave the kitchen!

    January 26, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  18. arale norimaki

    People are sick of the Bush family brand and the world is moving away from them.

    This is the kind of republican that makes the party undesirable

    Rick Perry= Bush 3.0

    January 26, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  19. Oscar

    Rather a good deal watching two-of-a-kind has beens' kicking each other down like little boys fighting over a girl-true integrity and leadership. No womanizing president ever went "into" the Oval Office w/that "credential"; leaving is a horse of another color; Romney is just another Bernie Madoff ponzy scheme under the guise of good Governor but look at Massachuetts during his tenure; running his moth is all he's running!

    January 26, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  20. ????

    And hey, if that doesn't work we can always have hanging chads.

    January 26, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  21. rem43fl

    Really Wolf... Which wife would make the best First Lady?! I always thought that Nancy Reagan was the best First Lady. At least her and Betty Ford tried to get people off drugs. Or Jackie Kennedy. At least she knew the history of the White House. (There is no "dish room", by the way.) "Those doors that your camera just came crashing through were donated by..." Ah yes; the First Family Album. A classic in its own time! Unlike that most erratic of questions... This is NOT a beauty contest. I was hoping for more in the way of Talent, instead. Mr. Santorum has all the makings, and the best answers so far. But what do I know! I've never met his wife, and that may disqualify my opinion...

    January 26, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  22. Jeff

    Jeb and his brother have set education in America back 40 years with Jeb's love for tests and Bush's No Child Left Behind.

    January 26, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  23. CGB

    A poster said that it was the media that is making them debate? Huh? No, they are the ones to go eagerly to the stage. They offer nothing of substance, but to me that's a good thing. Let the American people see these repubs who are so compromised that it's a shame we can't vote for Obama now.

    January 26, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  24. OMally

    Warns voters, oh great. They also should be warned the vote can be fixed in FL, otherwise we would not have suffered through 2 terms of his brother at the helm.

    January 26, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  25. nbgb

    Jeb Bush???.....What does he have to do with anything. I was voting in W Palm Beach, in 2000 when he arranged for his brother to win the election. The country went downhill thereafter. NO MORE BUSH not even a word.

    January 26, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
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