July 9th, 2009
02:06 PM ET
14 years ago

Jeb Bush: 'I don't know' if Obama is a socialist

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/06/art.getty.jeb.bush.jpg caption="Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is part of the effort, led by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, to re-brand the GOP."](CNN) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told an interviewer that he could not say whether or not President Barack Obama is a socialist, and that the president would not have been elected if he had been honest with Americans about his agenda.

Bush would not answer the question of whether he agreed with the assessment of some congressional Republicans that the president is a socialist. "I don't know. Define socialism for me," he told Esquire magazine. "It's a word... I believe he's a collectivist. He believes that through collective action, through government, you can solve more problems." He added that he believed the word "socialism" was a pejorative, and "didn't help" the GOP make its case.

The brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush dismissed the idea that his party's policies were unpopular with most Americans. "I don't think there's any seismic shift. The Democrats have won on tactics," he said. "Barack Obama would not have gotten elected if he'd let us in on his secret plan prior to the election," he said, pointing to the president's economic agenda and energy proposals.

"....He made it appear like McCain was going to raise taxes, which was unfair, but there was no response back. When there was an ideological component, it was generally centrist or even center-right. Had he said what he was going to do as a candidate, (Obama) would have lost."

He downplayed the president's approval ratings, which remain above average. "First of all, who cares?" he said.

"His popularity is no greater – in fact it's less – than what my brother's was during the beginning of his tenure, in a time of unbelievable friction, if you think about it, because of the 2000 election. His approval ratings were higher than Barack Obama's during his first one hundred days."

According to the most recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls, Obama's approval ratings have averaged several points higher than President George W. Bush's were at the same point in their presidencies.

Told that Joe the Plumber had briefed congressional Republicans on Gaza, Bush launched into a defense of intellectualism. "I think it's okay to have a deeper understanding of things. I think it's okay to talk in three-syllable words. The world we're living in is incredibly complex," he told the magazine. "And simplifying things to the point where you're misunderstanding where we are as a nation isn't going to help people overcome their fears or give them hope that they can achieve great things. I don't get inspired by shameless populism."

Bush called conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh "a hugely important force for the conservative movement," but added that he was "more interested in elected officials, how they behave."

"I feel happy for Rush to get all this attention. He's one part of a mosaic of people and thought in the conservative movement," he said. "I don't think you can discount his importance. At the same time, he's not an elected official, so I think he has a different responsibility."

Asked by Esquire to name the leaders of the Republican Party, Bush included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, but did not mention 2012 GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin.

He discounted the idea he might run for president one day. "Frankly I don't wake up each day assuming I'm the solution to life's problems" - and said he was not upset by observers who say his last name would keep him out of the Oval Office: "It doesn't bother me. I feel blessed. I have a blessed life. I don't feel like life has been unfair at all. I got to be governor of a fantastic state. I got to do what I said I was going to do."

Filed under: Jeb Bush
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    We listened to a Bush for 8 years, do we really need another one spouting his bile. Please Jeb, go fishing or something. Times are changing and the old guard can't handle it.

    July 9, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. Once You Vote Black

    Now now Jeb, you are a GOP. You must take ownership of your own loss. Otherwise you will feel like a victim. Do you mean one little Blackman beat the entire GOP, or was it your lack of tactics that caused it. Nobody can beat you unless you let them.

    The GOP has been beaten to a stand still. They have been whooped in the Senate and trounced in the House. The talent differential is mind boggling. Obama's victory was a landslide when you consider a Jr. Sen. destroyed a Sr. Sen. who is a war hero. And now we are taking over the Court. This is why the GOP is so happy to see that only 70% of the voters said said the president is a strong and decisive leader instead of 80%. You know you are a looser when your only argument for why you should be elected is because the other guys have everything. No matter how good or bad Obama does in office the right will never be able to erase the fact that a Blackman stomped the entire GOP by not only beating a nice clean war hero, but also ushered in a congress with a bulletproof majority! You guys go whooped.

    July 9, 2009 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  3. Marydoe

    Yeah, whatever, does anyone think a Bush will support a Demo anyway?

    July 9, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  4. Tania

    Pathetic. Another Republican rocket surgeon and great intellect. Maybe they should establish a new "think" tank, with Palin, Rush, the Bushes, and the many others who have accomplished so much during their terms.

    July 9, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. John Des Plaines, IL

    Just another thing Jeb doesn't know.......

    July 9, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. ken

    thanks for checking in jeb. why don't you go hang out with your idiot brother.

    July 9, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Now...this is true, true!

    July 9, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. slkwly


    July 9, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. unconcerned citizen

    Exercising his right to free speech I see. Here is the amusing part. Look at all of the comment that will be posted here. The democratic posts will be most hate filled nonsense. And this from the party that supposedly champions diversity of opinions? LOL!

    Maybe you can lay off of W now and direct your misguided anger at Jeb!

    July 9, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  10. Jim

    and what else would we expect to hear from jeb bush?

    this is just more republican smearing with no new ideas for the country.

    it'd be really, really nice if the republicans would even TRY to come up with some new ideas.

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. 60's survivor

    what a blunderbuss! bet he stayed up all night to craft that little speech. politicians worry constantly over "message" not so much truth and resolution. keep that up in the future we will be in the same boneyard as all the other great empires before us. check out history folks

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  12. Big-K(DC)

    Jeb, who? Just what I thought, we have had enough of them, need to join his bubba in obscurity.

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  13. simon

    "I don't know", if Jeb Bush is an idiot.

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. Kevin in Ohio

    The 2008 Obama election was a masterstroke of manipulation.... in fact, it contributed to the downfall of the economy and, early on, to the struggles in Iraq. It is clear Obama lied..... unfortunately only 48% of us picked up on that.

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  15. Nate

    Are you saying that after losing an election, Republican scum like Jeb Bush can't figure out that this argument doesn't work? What a idiot!

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. Jubie

    Hmmm, let's see, why should we care what Jeb Bush has to say? Just another example of Republicans deflecting scrutiny away from what THEIR party did to this country, and what THEIR agenda really is. Let's come up with a bumper sticker: WWJD? (what would Jeb do?). Please. Leave us alone. Hasn't your party and family done enough to this country?

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Matt

    Can someone please remind me why Jeb Bush's opinion is more important or insightful than any other person's? Jeb, you were a misguided governor here in Florida, and no one really cares about your opinion.

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. joel palmer

    This guy was worthless and devious as Governor of Florida; he is "more of the same" gop attack dog mentality.

    Offer no programs or ideas (beyond "MORE TAX CUTS") and disparage anyone who tries to fix the myriad problems we face (Economy, health care, illegal wars, education, housing) this is their mantra. A huge pack of losers (Palin, Jindal, Ensign, Vitter, Sanford, Gingrich, Huckabee, Romney and now Bush III)

    Spare us from any news about these old, lying, cheating, white rascals!

    July 9, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. Anonymous

    he has a lot of nerve

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. hh

    Another Bush talking bull...

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. Mike

    You tell em Jeb, his approval ratings are dropping like a stone and he is below 50 percent approval ratings in Ohio and Virginia just for starters. Most people like him personally but the majority disapprove of his economic policies and do not see him as a strong leader.

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. Shut up now

    And your brother was a lying dog.

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. Scott, Tucson

    Of course Obama is a socialist and that's being nice to him. Right now Obama and the democrats plan is to take our income through higher tax seizures and redistribute it to those whom are too lazy to get off their butts and work for a living, while tearing down this nation in the process.

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. Respect

    So when a hurricane rips thru Florida and the government bails the homeowners & insurance companies out, is that not a collective government approach according to your definition?

    What an idiot!?!?!? Like grandfather (Hitler supporter), like father (Saddam & Osama supporter), like brother (Madoff supporter).

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. joel palmer

    You"ll know when he is running for president when the fat ba$tard starts slimming down

    July 9, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
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