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. Jim8

    Jeb, being the best of the Bushes, is like being the thinnest kid at fat camp. You are still in fat camp.

    January 26, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. Who cares

    Funny reading all the comments from the left wing libs. Jeb isn't running for anything so why are you all so afraid of him?

    January 26, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  3. Johnson

    I wish he had pointed out the hypocrisy of Mitt Romney. This man has gone from claiming to be a liberal Democract – more liberal than Ted Kennedy to being an Independent , then gradually trying to convince us he is a conservative.

    January 26, 2012 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  4. Doc

    As I'm sitting here reading some of these comments on hereone thing comes to mind. Wake up! Are you serious? Obama a good president? REALLY??? Look around at everything, since this man has come in to office the situation has got worse. WELFARE is a good example, JOBS is another good one, oh yea, and this cap OBAMACARE???? Who in their right mind would think that is a good idea? If this is the way people think they get to think about re-locating to another country!

    January 26, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  5. coderjones

    its not his brother running – so why not be honest this time.....

    January 26, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  6. saftgek

    Are we EVER going to know the end of blathering from the Bush family? Why can't they shrivel up and blow away in the wind, and stop contaminating our air?

    January 26, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  7. saftgek

    Doc – the "worse" referenced in your post of Jan. 26 at 9:58 p.m. is 1) grossly over-stated, and 2) were products of the GOP "leadership" that declared war on the President and the people of the U.S. on Inauguration Day 2009.

    Sad, I believe, how so many in our country are deaf, dumb and blind to the egregious misconduct of the GOPers in Congress. They just don't seem to connect the dots.

    Pity!

    January 26, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  8. Randy Johnson

    Wow – that is the wisest thing I have heard a Republican say for a long time – leave alone coming from a guy with the last name of Bush. All sarcasm put aside, that was a good comment Jeb Bush.

    January 26, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  9. robert baca-bowers

    Let's see, his father was an utter failure. It is hard to imagine how bush #1 could have inflicted more damage on this country. His son Neil, is a thief, liar and fraud. He cost the US Taxpayers over $2 BILLION dollars to bail out Silverado Savings in Colorado. His brother, bush #2, lost the election but the gangsters on the supreme (hardly) court awarded him the nomination, and we all had to suffer for 8 years with the worst president ever. Now, Jeb is claiming that his father and brothers were losers and caused irreparable damage to our country, but if we give him, the failed governor of Florida, a chance to be president, he will try to do better than his brother and his old man. NOT!

    January 26, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  10. roy

    No one in the Bush family should try to give political advice look what the other two Bush's have done to the country
    Started expensive unfunded wars we will never get out of and crippled our country financially.

    January 26, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  11. Nanci

    Jeb the smart one?........Remember the Terry Shivo nightmare?????

    January 26, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  12. Anthony

    I bet Santorum's mom gets social security and medicare, 2 things Republicans fought against. Republicans called Roosevelt a communist for doing social security and called Johnson a socialist for doing medicare. Sound familiar?

    January 26, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  13. jonny

    JEB is the king of corruption from Florida.
    We ALL know it down here.

    January 26, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  14. Busted

    Didn't his brother spread a rumor that McCain, a decorated war hero, had an illegitimate child. Furthermore, and lets be clear, the reason Jeb didn't run is because his last name is Bush.

    January 26, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  15. Robert

    Jeb Bush is kind of like Billy Carter was back in the 70s. Has a famous brother who was president and has an opinion on everything.

    January 26, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  16. PTBarnumboy

    It's hard to get too excited about a Bush trying to discourage the practice of dirty politics.

    January 26, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  17. Enigma

    Jethro should head back to the hills, how any of his family ever got into the white house is beyond me.

    January 26, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  18. deej

    Why so much vitriol toward Jeb? So now the sins of the father and the brother are attributed to son and brother? Is this the old testament? Jeb was a great governor and by most accounts is a decent and humane man. Stop hating.

    January 26, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  19. me

    you democrats are disgusting. now think hard....whatwas unemployment at under bush and what is it at under your beloved obama? yeah right all Bush's fault. you all need to grow up. even kindergardeners don' resort to the childish name calling as much as you lot. with you its all the blame game think real hard did everyone blame Carter for years for the state he left the country in? but the again Reagan did get us back on track quickly and had too much class to fiinger point once the job was his. maybe obama should learn form him

    January 26, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  20. Terry

    Jeb Bush warning Republicans to warm up to Hispanics and Latinos. Sure, the Republicans need illegals to mow grass at their country clubs, clean their homes, perform their landscape work, and wash their cars, for less than the minimum wage, but they do not want to live next to them, or teach them in their native language while they learn English. What an absolute pile horse pucks. Republicans are old white people who cry for the good old days.

    January 26, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  21. bud

    No more Bushes!

    January 26, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  22. Bob

    Make that the rich, old white guy party.

    January 26, 2012 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  23. Flying heron

    Im a republican with only one thing to say; the BUSH name is toxic.

    January 27, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  24. patrick

    Jeb is a great improvement over his brother although almost anyone would be...

    January 27, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  25. Buck

    Who gives a crap what Jeb Bush says? Obama 2012!!!!!!

    January 27, 2012 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
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