Jeb Bush: Reagan wouldn't fit in today's GOP
June 11th, 2012
10:34 AM ET
2 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. Man DeLorean

    No surprise to those of us who have watched the party abandon Reagan's ideals while invoking his name like some kind of holy incantation. And he's also dead-on about his father, and probably got that info straight from the horse's mouth. Yet he blames Obama for the GOP's problems? What kind of twisted reasoning is that? Sounds a lot like an alcoholic blaming his problems on that evil Jim Beam. Methinks he knows better but is afraid to speak the truth, just like a lot of other Republicans.

    June 11, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  2. bethjoyce

    I'm a Democrat; but it's refreshing to hear this from Bush!! wish there were more Republicans like him!!

    June 11, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  3. Tired in Columbus

    Matthew, if Reagan or George H. W. Bush conducted politics today the same way they did when they held the highest office in the land, the mildest thing they would be called is a RINO. They would be "primaried" by Tea Party candidates in a heartbeat, who would declare those two GOP presidents to be "socialists." Today's GOP has an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, whether the issue is taxes, abortion, or doing whatever it takes to thwart President Obama.

    June 11, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Don

    Wow a rare bout of honest from a real republican. Get ready Jeb,you're int the crosshairs now.

    June 11, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  5. Jon

    Tax-hiking, flip-flopping governor of an elitist blue state, in favor of abortion before he was against it. Yep, that was Reagan all right.

    June 11, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  6. Cold_Hard_Facts

    @Matthew: Actually, you didn't get it. Jeb was not critiquing the media's portrayal, he's explicitly saying that what passes as the GOP today is not, in fact, consistent with the Republican Party.

    June 11, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. Dave

    It's amazing that because one comment was made that catered to the liberals, Bush suddenly became one of the "men of vision". These same folks not too long ago demonized Jeb just because his last name is Bush. GHW Bush is different than GW Bush is different than Jeb Bush.

    June 11, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  8. steveincny22

    Do you find it interesting that Jeb did not mention his brother? To those that try to focus on "...and I don't" are missing his point. His Republican Party, and mine, is not the party of Reagan, Bush I, Eisenhower and other prominent Republicans of the past.

    June 11, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. DoubeW

    Actually, if there are any pragmatic Republicans left– those focused on anything more substantive than "making Obama fail.–" they should form their own party. I've no doubt thinking people would flock to them. Not enough to win this election, but perhaps the next.

    June 11, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. Boisepoet

    Bush highlights an important fact; Republicans are moving their party towards one that does not allow dissent or independent thinking. There's another term for that...Totalitarianism.

    June 11, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Mr 1% the "VULTURE CAPITALIST BUSINESSMAN" will outsource all the poor, disabled, unemployed and elderly, to China and sell America to the highest bidder!

    Well, at least one Bush can still identify and speak the truth!

    June 11, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Bob

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

    Utter tripe.

    June 11, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Strategic Bob

    Well, Jeb Bush saying that he doesn't define the GOP "as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement" does not affect what the modern GOP is, anymore than calling a dog's tail a leg gives dogs five legs. It is what it is, no matter how Jeb Bush "defines" it. There was a time when rational people could proudly call themselves Republicans. No more. The party is in the hands of irrational rightwing extremists – people who are willing to gut this country in order to serve their selfish ends. And Grover Norquist, he is motivated by an "insight" that he had as a 14 year old boy – that taxing people to pay for common goods, like roads and defense and police and schools, was nothing more than thievery. Think about that, people. The country is being ruined by the selfishness of a man who never grew past the delusions and misunderstanding of a 14 year old.

    June 11, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  14. steven harnack

    I just checked and my eyebrows are still in the same place that they always have been. Don't you folks have any other tools in your box?

    June 11, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. Anonymous

    In spite of having a brother who could not recognize the harm that his hyper-partisan advisers were doing to the country, Jeb is honest enough to have the Nation's best interest at heart. Politics is the art of compromise...the GOP has abandoned governing for the sake of a 'winner take all' policy. When you say 'my way or nothing', you get NOTHING. Reagan would in fact be rejected by the party who says that they worship him.

    June 11, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. JohnReedjr

    There was accommodation and compromise because there was a Democratic congress ans senate who understood how our type of democracy works, through concession and compromise, and who understood that the voters elect people to govern. This all changed in 1994, when staying in power became the most important thing.

    June 11, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Brian, Nj

    Further evidence the wrong Bush son was elected President.

    June 11, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. Micheal Veteran

    The GOP were set on day one to make sure the elected President of the United States of America was unable to acomplish any thing

    June 11, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. chill

    Then do the honorable thing and get out like many of us did. Today's GOP is extremist and is the one treating those who don't toe their line as enemies. This all started with Gingrich and his Contract on America in 1994. To say this is largely Obama's fault when he spent two years wasting time trying to find common ground, while the GOP was killing their own for any sign of compromise, is ludicrous.

    June 11, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. twophad

    It always amazes me to see that the only thing that "raises brows" among the GOP is the truth!

    June 11, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  21. FLIndpendent

    "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"
    _________________________________
    Then he goes on to say that it's President Obama's fault that there's not bipartisanship now, but conveniently leaves out the Clinton & Bush II years. The partisanship started with Newt Gingrich and his shutting down the government, and the witchhunt that the Repubs did on Clinton, and then continued during the Bush II years with the "you're either with us or against us" President. Also, Jeb has a huge hand in causing the partisan climate since he was instrumental in getting his big brother the Presidency when the man didn't win the popular vote. I hope that Obama's team runs with these comments from Jeb and uses them against the current GOP just as the GOP uses anything said by Dems for their attacks against Obama. FORWARD with OBAMA 2012!

    June 11, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Olaf Big

    Reagan is not my idol by any stretch of imagination, but Jeb Bush is right. Republicans are not the party of Theodore Roosevelt, or even Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan anymore, let alone Abraham Lincoln. This is a party that stands on two pillars – the votes of ignorant rednecks scared of social progress and the money of big corporations that have no other interests than making more money.

    June 11, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  23. RustyG

    Jeb pontificates that Reagan couldn't get the GOP nomination while Romney who is left of Reagan actually does. And this is the smart Bush?

    June 11, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  24. Paul827

    Of course Reagan wouldn't fit in with today's GOP, he was a tax and spend guy.

    June 11, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  25. Digital Backlash

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

    From the minute Obama was sworn in, the Republicans screamed they wanted him to fail.
    Figures, a Bush blaming Obama

    June 11, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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