Jeb Bush: Reagan wouldn't fit in today's GOP
June 11th, 2012
10:34 AM ET
6 years ago

Jeb Bush: Reagan wouldn't fit in today's GOP

(CNN) – One of the GOP's leading voices said Monday that former President Ronald Reagan, considered an idol among Republican politicians, would struggle to mesh with today's hyper-partisan attitude among some elected officials.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaking to editors at Bloomberg, also said his father, former President George H.W. Bush, would have trouble fitting in with today's Republican Party.

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"Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad – they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party – and I don't – as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground," Bush said, according to the website Buzzfeed.

The remarks were nearly immediately highlighted by President Barack Obama's re-election team, which emailed the comments to a press distribution list. Obama's team has itself struggled in recent weeks with off-message comments from campaign surrogates, including former President Bill Clinton and Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker.

Jeb Bush said an attitude of bipartisanship existed during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

"Back to my dad's time and Ronald Reagan's time – they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support," Bush said, according to Buzzfeed.

Today's White House and Congress don't reflect the same attitude, Bush said, placing much of the blame on Obama.

"His first year could have been a year of enormous accomplishment had he focused on things where there was more common ground," Bush said.

Last week Bush made headlines when he broke with many in his party on taxes, saying he favored slight tax increases in return for large cuts in spending.

When pressed in the hearing, Bush said he also disagreed with popular pledges authored by Washington anti-tax heavyweight Grover Norquist and his group, Americans for Tax Reform.

"I ran for office three times. The pledge was presented to me three times. I never signed the pledge. I cut taxes every year I was governor," Bush said.

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Filed under: George H.W. Bush • Jeb Bush • Ronald Reagan
soundoff (333 Responses)
  1. rs

    It is not often I'd agree with a Bush of any stripe, but on this point Mr. Jeb Bush is entirely correct. The Republican Party has taken such a long, protracted swing to the radical fringes of the right that Mr. Reagan could no longer belong. Neither could Mr. Goldwater, nor Mr. Nixon. Certainly moderates (and sensible progmatics) like Eisenhower were long ago dismissed ad RINOs, and truly stellar Presidents like T. Roosevelt would be labelled "socialists" by today's GOP/TP.

    Therein lies the problem with Mr. Obama's Presidency: How do you forge a working relationship with a party whose positions are continually shifting ever more radically right, and who deny their own ideology sometimes in only a matter of weeks?

    The GOP is imploding in it's own "conservative" fantasy where only the rich count, the nation doesn't need balanced budgets or taxes, whites rule, and women stay home- oh and everyone is "christian".

    June 11, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. Joe

    Of course, Obama wouldn't fit into the democratic party of the 80s either.

    June 11, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. Padraig

    That is a very true statement. President Reagan work with Representative O'Neill and many other Democratic leaders to get things accomplished. Sadly, it seems very rare that either side wants to or is willing to work together to help this nation.

    June 11, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |

    Thank you Jeb for echoing what the President and democrats have been saying for the past 2 years. The republican prty has been hijacked by the extreme right. They will nail Reagan to the stake if he were alive today. Reagan actually believed in compromise. John Boehner and the rest of the obstructionists republicans can't force themselves to use the word.

    June 11, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  5. MaryM

    Jeb, that is a true statement. Repubs have moved soooooooo far to the right they need biccnoculars to see the middle and then they call it the far left. Vote these teapublicans out of office now before they completely destroy America.

    June 11, 2012 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  6. Mike from Calgary

    It is little wonder that Jeb Bush and many other men of vision within the Republican Party decided not to seek the Nomination this time around and that Romney is the survivor in a very weak field.
    Bush has a sterling record in Florida and there is no reason to taint his reputation by associating himself in any manner with Mitt Romney, and Bain (BANE) Capital, firing American workers, raiding their Pension funds and sending the loot off to Swiss Bank Accounts, the Cayman Islands and to the MORMON Temple.

    June 11, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. Matthew

    You do realize that Jeb is saying exactly the opposite of what you're saying he's saying, right?

    "if you define the Republican party – and I don't – as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement"

    He's saying Reagan/Bush wouldn't fit into today's GOP, as it's defined by the media, not as it actually is.

    June 11, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. ST

    The problem with republicans is; there are not ready to revisit what former GOP presidents did. They praise them (especially Regan), but they do not copy his deeds. It would be nice if they will stop even mentioning his name.

    June 11, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. Severely Moderate

    “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” – GOP/Tea Party Agenda (2008-2012)
    American Jobs Bill – Blocked by the GOP Congress
    Teachers and First Responders Bill – Blocked by the GOP Congress
    Infrastructure Jobs Bill – Blocked by the GOP Congress
    American people are NOT stupid!

    June 11, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  10. RealityBites

    Only a dishonest media would gloss over the "– and I don't –" part of Jeb's speech..

    June 11, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  11. Tim C

    I agree with @rs; however, I often wonder how it could be that most analysts expect Republicans to take a majority in the Senate, and potentially win the presidency (I think Obama will be elected for a 2nd term though...unless the economy tanks again). Obviously, people are voting for Republicans, despite their ideological rigidity. I don't really have answers, except that people must like voting for gridlock.

    June 11, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  12. Expat American

    He is right. And the fact that Palin and Bachmann tossed around 'Reagen this and Reagan that' everytime they opened their mouths a few months back only shows how stupid these two Tea Party darlings really are.

    June 11, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  13. Wes B.

    How on earth did George W. become president instead of this Bush? This one seems to have gotten all the brains, when the other got all the luck.

    June 11, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  14. nmmell08

    Jeb Bush hit it on the head with his statement. Reagan, while leading this revolution gone out of control now, was at least willing to listen to Democrats and was rational. This republican party today is extreme and unwilling to compromise on anything, Murdock in IN said it himself

    June 11, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. Karm99

    That is a pretty amazing statement coming from Bush. I believe it is the only thing I have heard him say that shows me he might be different from the lunatic fringe Right.

    Today's Republican Party has been completely hijacked by the Right, to the point that they can not function. If they want to exist as a viable party and appeal to independent voters, they better start tacking to the center.

    Maybe Bush can be the catalyst for this.

    June 11, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. judy

    the repo party is such a mess no one with any ideas that don't match up with the money backed few are conscidered traitors. The party is being run by the rich pacs.

    June 11, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. Larry L


    Thanks for a very wise comment. Interesting Jeb didn't really mention the Presidency of his brother. Few Republicans want to talk about those eight years. They were blaming President for our economic situation two weeks after he took office and completely ignore the "W" debacle.

    June 11, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |

    "Jeb Bush: Reagan wouldn't fit in today's GOP"

    WELL! you can tell HE ain't running for GOP nomination for President of The United States

    June 11, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. Jared

    Would Prescott Bush fit in ? yeah i think so, he funded the NAZI party while today we fund dictators all around the world. so yeah id say we are no different than we were since WW1

    June 11, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. thelastbrainleft

    Why is CNN lying and saying Jeb ripped the GOP for not willing to work with the President? He ripped OBAMA for being too partisan. The Reagan comment was almost thrown in as an afterthought.

    June 11, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. brad

    I can agree to a point. But really it's on both sides. Remembered McConnel's comment. Desire to make Obama a "one term president" Not very helpful if you asked me. Sad state we are in. Don't be wearing blinders.

    June 11, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. BlueDem1

    Jeb merely stated the obvious.

    June 11, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. SDG66

    I commend JB for not selling out to that nut Norquist

    June 11, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. luke,az

    America needs people who will fight for the middle class not the 1%. I think the private sector is doing just fine, the highest paid ceo in Arizona made $82,000,000 in 2011, Richard Adkerson of Freeport-McMoran a mining company.

    June 11, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. Anthony

    The sad thing is that Obama fits Reagan's Republican Party more than today's Republicans. Obama has kept the Bush tax cuts. Obama passed a healthcare plan based on a Republican idea, the individual mandate. It was a Republican idea when the Heritage Foundation proposed it in 1989. Just like cap-and-trade, Republicans attack Obama for adopting what used to be Republican (at least before the 2008 election) ideas.

    June 11, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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