Jeb Bush's GOP 'canary in the coal mine'
June 13th, 2013
02:22 PM ET
1 year ago

Jeb Bush's GOP 'canary in the coal mine'

Washington (CNN) – Jeb Bush, Florida's former Republican governor, said Thursday that it is important for his party to not forget about Asian Americans, especially when talking about immigration reform.

In answering a question about the political reasons for passing immigration reform at an event at the Bipartisan Policy Center, Bush said for the GOP, Asian Americans are "the canary in the coal mine."

"Here is a group that has higher intact families, more entrepreneurial, higher than average incomes, higher college graduation rates," Bush said when describing the reasons the Republican Party should be attractive to Asian Americans.

"Asian Americans are actually the canary in the coal mine, I believe, for Republicans," Bush continued. "If we have lost connectivity to emerging voters, not because of our policies so much, but because we are not engaged in issues of importance to them, then I think we pay a price."

Bush's comments come on the same day that the United States Census Bureau announced Asians were "the nation's fastest-growing race or ethnic group."

According to the census, the number of Asian Americans grew by 2.9 percent in 2012, to a total of 18.9 million people. The government agency also announced that more than 60 percent of Asian growth came from international immigration.

The term canary in the coal mine refers to a dated mining practice, where miners would bring caged canaries to the bottom of coal mines to monitor for noxious gases. The birds were more sensitive to the gas, so when they would die, the miners would know it was time to evacuate the mine. The term now means a group or idea that is an early signal of trouble.

Since President Barack Obama defeated Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race, immigration reform has been discussed as one of the most pivotal issues facing Congress. According to CNN exit polls from the 2012 election, 73% of Asian voters favored Obama compared to 26% who voted for Romney.

Full Senate debate of an immigration reform bill started Wednesday, where senators from both parties traded barbs about the need and implementation of reforming the nation's immigration system.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reiterated a pledge to complete immigration reform in the Senate by July 4th.

Bush, who spoke on a panel with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, said that the political reason for passing immigration – the need to reach out to minority voters who turned away from the Republicans in 2012 – is obvious.

"I'd say both parties feel a need for political reasons to forge a consensus on good policy," Bush said. "And there is nothing wrong with that."

Bush did, however, discourage looking at immigration reform from a strictly political lens, even going as far as to say that looking at immigration as solely a political issue was the greatest risk to any immigration bill on Capitol Hill.

A possible contender for his party's presidential nomination in 2016 – despite the fact that he has done very little to stoke the presidential rumors – Bush also announced that he had given some "humble advice" to Republicans on Capitol Hill earlier on Thursday.

The former Florida governor, who was invited to address House Republicans by Republican Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, said many of the legislators were receptive to his message of continued focus on immigration reform.

Asked about the chances that immigration reform passes Congress, Bush was upbeat.

"It is within our grasp to do it now," Bush said. "I think delay would be inappropriate."


Filed under: Immigration • Jeb Bush
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    "If we have lost connectivity to emerging voters, not because of our policies so much, but because we are not engaged in issues of importance to them, then I think we pay a price."
    -----------------------------------------------
    You have a point there Jeb, however, the hateful rhetoric that your party engages in is what drives minorities away from your party. The College Republican Committee stated that the party is racist. Good luck trying to win over minorities. It will be a cold day in hell when that happens.

    June 13, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    Anything and everything bush should keep quiet and go sit in the corner with the dunce cap on.
    We just don't care!!!
    Your brother did enough damage to the country to literally and figuratively last the US a century!!

    June 13, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. ARMYCSM

    We don't care for republicants either.

    June 13, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. Guess

    Before you waste a vote, simply google the bush family, i seriously doubt anyone who loves this country could ever bring themselves to vote for another bush after doing even a small amount of research, the more you read, the less you like them. during election last year george had a $10,000 a seat seminar, how to evade paying us taxes, by offshoring your assets, what a patriotic man, as if he has not done enough already, absolutely despise that man.

    June 13, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. Guess

    Giving billionaires tax evasion tips, all the while romney is proposing to lower his tax rate tp 1%, and of course we have to raise middle class taxes, we need the revenue.a very condensed version of what they want, more inequality, hard to raise their standard of living, so they must lower yours to get the desired effect, absolute superiority.

    June 13, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Guess

    They cant seriously think they can bs the most educated minority in the us, the fact that theyare smart should tell you your wasting your time, but go ahead, smash their faces in your ideaology, and further disenfranchise another voting block, do you seriously wonder why you cant win the white house?

    June 13, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. KTM

    The GOP's problem is insincerity.... They want to say the "right things" to attract different demographics, but clearly don't mean what they say. It's very transparent; not many people will fall for the ruse.

    June 13, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. Guess

    The gop is running out of groups to insult. too bad, this is entertaining to watch what comes out of their mouths next, everything but their foot!

    June 13, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Peoples State of Illinois

    That's ok, there are plenty on the right that don't care much for liberals either. Yep, the devisiveness keeps going and the division amongst the people gets wider and wider. I used to be able to take or leave liberals, have even liked some. Not so much anymore.

    June 13, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Boo

    I wish the entire Bush family WOULD JUST GO AWAY.

    June 13, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    According to CNN exit polls from the 2012 election, 73% of Asian voters favored Obama compared to 26% who voted for Romney.
    -------------------------------------------------
    You can call them canaries or anything else you'd like, these progressive high earning, entrepeneurial, college graduates are NOT buying whatever it is you are selling.
    But look on the bright side: They many not have been voting Democratic so much as voting FOR OBAMA.
    Lucky for you that term limit thingy for Presidents, huh?

    June 13, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. just sayin

    democrats killed immigration reform in 2007 for political purposes and will kill it again for the same reason. their lackeys in the lsm will carry their water and blame it on others. not until the hispanics and blacks wake up will this sort of nonsense stop. they are shamelessly used by the democrats and where has it gotten them? no where.

    June 13, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. sonny chapman

    A pig w/lipstick is still a pig. People who have experienced being hated, recognize hate.

    June 13, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "If we have lost connectivity to emerging voters, not because of our policies so much, but because we are not engaged in issues of importance to them,
    -------------------------------------------------
    Sounds like doublespeak to me.
    Aren't your policies supposed to address the issues of importance to the voters?
    The problem is that those that vote for you is a shrinking, crazed, irrational, minority whose issues of importance are not in line with what is importance to the REST OF THE ELECTORATE. You know, little things like compromise, fixing the economy, jobs, national security,equeal treatment for all, education, clean air, global warming....

    June 13, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  15. Winning

    It's never because of their policies. It's always messaging to them. We got their message loud and clear in 2012, and they lost some power because of it. As a former Republican voter, I have to say the party left me, I didn't leave the party. They have insane positions on just about everything now.

    June 13, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Here we go , 2016 !

    BUSH #3

    June 13, 2013 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  17. roosterAJ

    Thank you Mr. Jeb Bush for your description of the Asian immigrants. I am Korean American and I always tell people that I love the Republican ideology but the people the Republican party are elitist and racist. I would love to be a Republican championing hard work, strong family values, and middle class economic structure. But the Republican party is about white elitists who wants America for the whites only and that is why I stay away from the Republican party. So please keep talking to the Republican party to follow the ideals of the party and work with ethnic groups that value the same ideals.

    June 13, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. The Elephant in the Room

    Jeb, you are sort of right but the real problem are your parties policies.

    Republicans are down right ARROGANT to think they are perfect for entreprenuerial [business owner], college educated, "traditional family" , people of faith. Sorry but SO ARE the Democrats.

    The GOP`s problem with Asians is two-fold:

    1) the unprincipled hostility that the Republicans repeatedly show President Obama makes them realize that the GOP would smile in their face and talk trash about them behind closed doors. Asians would not go out of their way to make their leader FAIL.

    2.) Asians are COMMUNAL, not typically selfish when engaging at the highest order of the hierarchy. They act together [after much thought] and believe in a shared destiny so the GOP`s SELFISH, cut-my-taxes-screw-the -other-guy, DNA will never fit most Asians.

    June 13, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  19. militarymom777

    Immigration reform really! What is totally strange is any thing they can do for other people in other country they will do. What is going on how about the Americans that live in the USA. All I can say it is a mess. The issues are way off of what is in the best interest of our country.

    June 13, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Golly,
    Jeb tslks about people taking responsibility for their future.. Sacriledge ! How dare he talk about such people. The Libs want to sell you the Nanny State! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain ! All together now, Nanny State ! Welfare ! Food Stamps ! Free Ride !

    June 13, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. rs

    Jeb Bush- more like "deer in headlights".

    June 13, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "not because of our policies "

    No, it's pretty much because of your policies. Please proceed.

    OUTREACH!

    June 13, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    The term canary in the coal mine refers to a dated mining practice, where miners would bring caged canaries to the bottom of coal mines to monitor for noxious gases. The birds were more sensitive to the gas, so when they would die, the miners would know it was time to evacuate the mine. The term now means a group or idea that is an early signal of trouble.
    -------------

    As far as I can tell, the GOPerville canary sang its last song many months ago. But, hey. If Mr. Bush now wants to brand "others not like him" as a canary ... its fine by me. Kind of adds to their re-branding flavor (of stupidity).

    June 13, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Kinpo

    More like flatulence in a space suit.

    June 13, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. The Real Tom Paine

    -Ray E. (Georgia)

    Golly,
    Jeb tslks about people taking responsibility for their future.. Sacriledge ! How dare he talk about such people. The Libs want to sell you the Nanny State! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain ! All together now, Nanny State ! Welfare ! Food Stamps ! Free Ride !
    ********************
    Oh, I forgot: 40 years of the Democrats running one chamber of the legislature is to blame for all the problems we have. God forbid we should enact any policies that actually accomplish something, instead of just letting everyone fend for themselves or, better still, subsidize the rich on the backs of middle class people who ahve not seen their incomes rise much in the last 30 years, since Ronnie Reagan enacted his tax cuts and increased defense spending in an effort to " balance" the budget. A permanant underclass of minimum wage workers, with no healthcare, no prospects, no hope is what the GOP now feels is good for you. The GOP does not want you to succeed because that does not mesh with their agenda of work, suffer, and die younger and poorer than your parents, all for the greater glory of the Romney and Adelsens of this world. Enjoy, everyone, and be sure to watch the return of the Wassila Hillbily to FOX while you figure out whether to send your checks to the NRA or The Family Research Council. They will do all your thinking for you.

    June 13, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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