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.

Also see:

Axelrod weighs in on Obama's private sector comments

Romney video goes after Obama's comments on economy

Daniels, Walker want Romney to go bold


McCain: Obama responsible for leaks, Holder has no credibility


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

    You have to admire him for declining to give into the Norquist pledge - and speaking out about the mayhem in his party. Seems like a decent man to me.

    June 11, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. deputydog

    People forget Reagan and Bush had a bitter primary battle and were never aligned completely from a philosophical standpoint. Bush referred to Reagan's supply side economics as Voodoo economics while Reagan branded Bush a moderate. Reagan's first choice for VP was Ford not Bush. For Jeb Bush to now come out and say this is disingenious at best and dishonest at worst.

    June 11, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  3. Chuk

    Wow. This guy just voiced what everyone already know! Refreshing.

    June 11, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  4. Atul Chaudhary

    Well, he is preparing ground for 2016. He didn't mention his brother who had used bipartisan ways in first 4 years of his Presidency to accomplish so many things. Just for that this guy is opportunist. He has no backbone.

    Coming back to his comments, liberals including Obama is trying to exploit his statement but actually he is putting more blame on Obama than any body else. As far as Reagan is concern, I love what he did that he did but it is not necessarily to be done now. Because we are living in a different world. In Reagan's time, family was center of everything and now families are getting disintegrated which is the root cause of all problems. If you can fix our families, we will fix tons of issues including personal economy which in turn will fix our national economic situation. Reagan didn't have to fight so many things that we are facing today.

    June 11, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. JustMe

    Obama is not to blame. From the get go the Republicans in Congress have made it clear that their sole mission is to see President Obama fail and they have continuously voted no on issues that even they wholeheartedly supported before. On one hand Jeb Bush is right about Reagan and his father not fitting in with today's GOP, but he is wrong that Obama is primarily at fault.

    June 11, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  6. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    President Obama had made similar statements in the past about Reagan not fitting into today's GOP only to be attacked for it by Priebus and the RNC for saying it. Let me see them attack Jeb for this.

    June 11, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. Name JR

    Well we have one statesmen. And I think it is very obvious there would be no room for Clinton or JFK in this democratic party either. Ultimately the American people must decide between two extremes. This is what makes it so hard.

    June 11, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. Zu

    Wow Jeb you maybe the smartest of the bunch!

    June 11, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. rob

    "One of the GOP's leading voices" ?????? Jeb Bush is not a leading voice of the GOP but he is the new favorite Republican of the liberal news media because he will spout realable sound bites to embarass conservatives. That is the only reason he gets any mention at all from CNN.

    June 11, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. kman

    He's right Reagan compromised on taxes, government spending, Social Security, etc. He did not compromise on his vision for defense or the belief the Soviet Empire had to be defeated. So Republicans and Democrats both gave.

    During the Clinton years yes he raised taxes but he also cut capital gains and welfare reform.

    Both times the country prospered. Today it's more about politics than doing what is right for the country.

    June 11, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. TonyInNYC

    Jeb Bush - yes, Jeb Bush - is doing this country a huge favor in trying to reopen a conversation that never should've been shut down.

    June 11, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. FedUp

    Whatever, Jeb. JFK would be a Republican right now.

    June 11, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  13. Al-NY,NY

    say goodbye to anything resembling a VP invitation there Jeb. You're assessment of the diety Regan by these delusional current GOP'ers is spot on. He wouldn't even get a state's nomination for congress or senate the way the TeaPublicans work now but they till fawn over each other trying to attach themselves to his name

    June 11, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  14. Ol' Yeller

    @Texan
    "Compromise can also mean 'we tried your way and it failed, now let's try our way...' " Really!? Really!!!
    Are you really going to argue or try to change history with one post? How long have we tried it the Dems way? 4 years of gridlock and blocking everything thing that has proven to work in the past vs. decades of supply economics (or voodoo economics from Jeb's daddy) which brought our economy to the brink of disaster (just like this same type policy did before the Great Depression (5 republican White Houses in a row with austerity plans led to the Great Depression for you non political historians).
    I'm sorry you Texans are so P.O.ed about taxes, but that is your own fault for electing not so bright people who backdoored the state's funding into your property taxes when they took away the state income tax. But that's your fault...

    June 11, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  15. John

    First ya gotta be able to understand big words. You know, words like compromise and coopertion. Today's GOP can't get past NO.

    June 11, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. RalphS

    This is the best truth I have heard from the GOP in a long time, and quite honestly its refreshing. Jeb Bush is spot on in both counts including that bit that Obama could have accomplished much in his first year. However, it is a two way street and the blame is not solely on Obama or the GOP. This country needs to work together with one another, not against. I truly hope he does not (or is pressured to) retract his comments.

    June 11, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. sammieb51

    I gotta say, I can agree with much of what he is saying. He is not really blaming anyone specifically for the Washington divide, but is saying if Obama had chosen more moderate issues his 1st year in, the divide may have eased a bit. Bush was a good governor for Florida and I think would make a good president, bringing the country back around to the traditional and moderate GOP ideals and out of the extremist mire it has fallen into. He is right to say neither Reagan, nor Bush (1) could run in this GOP party. Of all the Bush's, he is the best one - I just hope the 1st two didn't ruin his career for him. I hope he considers a 2016 run.

    June 11, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. JD

    Jeb is two-thirds correct. Reagan was effective at getting bi-partisan support through compromise. So was Jeb's father, although it was more because he was more moderate. But Jeb is wrong about today's climate being Obama's fault. It started during his brother's term and when Obama was elected, the Republicans made it clear that they would oppose him on everything in order to make him a one-term president. That's why I was a Reagan republican until a few years ago when I left the Republican Party and now do not affiliate with any party. I still consider myself a conservative, but I believe the Republican Party is going to (has already?) destroy the U.S. economy and its standing in the world if left unchecked.

    June 11, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. docame

    Here is my pledge to all who will listen. I do not blame Obama. I think he is doing a great job for his first term, given what he has to deal with. Congress is where I place the blame. Not republicans, not democrats, but ALL of them. So, I would like for everyone to join me in voting out EVERYONE. Get my meaning? I mean come next congressional term we see all new faces. No one from the old guard is left. No one. Congress, that means today's Senators and Representatives, alike, no matter what side of the aisle they sit on, they won't be there next year. What do you all say? My personal wish is that everyone vote in an independent. This partisan crap has to end and congress needs to see that we mean business!

    June 11, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. Doug

    How does one compromise with a White House and political party that idolizes Mao as a hero? Just listen to Anita Dunn admit to it, she is not alone, she has the company of every American with a d next to their name and a majority of those who vote for 'dem.

    June 11, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Bob the Observer

    He's right about this. I was an enthusiastic Republican and straight-ticket voter in the Reagan years. Four years ago I held my nose and voted for some of them. This year, I don't see any of them getting my vote.

    June 11, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  22. rob

    Kman said:
    "During the Clinton years yes he raised taxes but he also cut capital gains and welfare reform." Clinton pivoted after the 1994 sweep of the Dems from congress power after 40 years. He had to compromise or he would have been swept away in 1996. He fought with the republicans on issues but between he and Newt spending was slowed, Welfare was reformed and certain taxes were cut leading to an economic boom that benefitted everyone. President Obama has not moved an inch from his idiology in the face of similar mid-term elections so the country has suffered and his chances in Nov are slim to none and slim just left town.

    June 11, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    JFK and FDR wouldn't fit in today's Democrat Party either. It has been taken over by far left "progressives"/socialists/communists that are George Soros groupies. Reagan dealt with Soviet leaders that weren't as far to the left as some of the Democrats in Congress.

    June 11, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. JD

    docame, I've been doing that for years.

    June 11, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. Charlie from the North

    It is about time someone in your party said it. It is so true, good for you for being bold enough to say it.

    June 11, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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