July 9th, 2009
02:06 PM ET
13 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. ronnie

    Hasn't the Bush family destroyed this country enough? They have raped, robbed and pillaged and we’re not having any more of it. Enough! We don’t want to ever see anything like a Bush near the white House. You have ruined this country. So Jeb, do us all a favor and sit down and shut up! And please don’t try any more of your scams. The American people are on to you guys and we’re just waiting for your brother George and Cheney to be charged with war crimes.

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  2. Mark

    and...who cares what you think?

    P.S. It was your brother, one of many in agreement, who at the cost of thousands of lives U.S. and abroad backed this country into a corner we must all collectively remove ourselves from.

    I couldn't care less about what you think or any Bush thinks. What's done is done. Working together to make this country well again is what is needed.

    Remove the ego, hate, selfish, greed and move on!

    How can your family sleep at night knowing there are the deaths of so many because of a war with no reason?

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Annette

    Jeb what are you doing for the folks in Florida? How are you advocating for those constiutents there that elected you as Governor? Hey Jeb, what are you doing for those in Florida that have lost their homes to foreclosure, those who are out of work. These comments sound so immature and frankly unproductive to the masses of folks who need help and need a postive leader. What have you done to enhance the needs of all Floridians, let's here your comments on that?

    I mean talk is cheap, if there is no luster behind it.

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Monopoly

    Jeb Bush ruined the state of Florida, so I really don't know where he thinks he has any right to comment on any political matter.
    Jeb Bush RUINED Florida and George Bush took care of ruining this country.

    Jeb outsourced state government to the companies of his friends the companies couldn't do the work like the state worker, so now the company hired the state to do the work. Now the State of Florida pays a middle man that brings the work right back to the state.

    He ruined the Education system in this state all the while he sat on Lehmans board and allowed the Retirement system to buy more bad mortgage investments from Lehman.

    How say it is all about greed and putting more money in the pockets of their rich friends.

    Jeb is trying to positioin himself for 2012. I guess he is like the rest of the politicians and are just hoping for everybody to forget how bad they were in office.

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. andy

    Your ideas didn't work, so let the man do this job. Obama has done MUCH more that jr bush did in 8 yrs.

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. Voter

    As a lifelong Democrat, I have to say that Jeb Bush is absolutely correct in his assessment.

    Obama would have lost had he revealed his real ideas. That is not to say that the Bush Administration was anything short of a disaster.

    But the Dems did win on tactics alone. And don't forget that it was a pretty close election. All the talk about America "coming to its senses" and electing an African American aside, there are still just short of half, if not fully half by now, of the electorate that voted AGAINST Obama.

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Jon

    Don't even THINK about running Jebby. Ain't gonna happen. And lying about your moron brother's approval ratings isn't helping.

    July 9, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. pat c

    coming from the brother of the worst president in history , i would not believe anything he says.president obama is busting his butt to achieve all the promises he made during his campain and we americans should be ashamed at the way we are already turning our backs on him. it took 8 years to get our country in this mess under george bush's leadership and it will take much longer than 6 months for obama to dig us out. god bless this new president for even wanting to fight these battles for us. please america start respecting this leader and president for the sake of our nation!
    we should all be grateful that palin/mccain are not in office now,look at the circus palin is creating and mccain would already have us in a war with iran and probably in china as well. all mccain knows is war,war, war for the solution to everything and palin knows nothing put creating drama for herself. i for one am very proud to have barack obama as our president.

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. true daughter of the american revolution

    and, bowing to Rush Limbaugh? does jeb have a brain at all?

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. Denise

    Do we really need to hear from another Bush right now?

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Jefferson Handcock

    It's not the party's polices its their holier than thou attitude, and overt racism.

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. DT

    I'd vote for Jeb Bush in a heartbeat.

    ...and now let all the brainless, zombie, lefties get in their abject comparisons to his brother. Here they come.

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. Vince, Jupiter, Florida

    Jeb is supposed to be the smart Bush which I guess means that he can read fast and remember and he didn't need his fathers help to get a college degree. Unfortunately that’s where his intelligence stops and his mean spirit begins. Jeb not only helped his older brother cheat the will of the people in 2000 he also left the state of Florida 2.5 billion in debt, allowed his real-estate development buddies to over develop our state which sent our property taxes ski high and brought property values way down. The good news is that he most likely will never be president...

    July 9, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Christina Hill

    Clearly he is jealous and insecure. He clearly will not advance to the "top office", and will say anything to slam anyone that is a democrat. Time spent on publishing this ticker, is time wasted that could have been filled with more substantial and important issues.

    July 9, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. Raul Dominguez

    Jeb Bush is definitely NOT "the solution to life's problems". Certainly not the nations! Enough of the Bush family in politics. Thank you.

    July 9, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. jlaw

    I hope Jeb never runs for president. With his dad's and brother's legacy he will be a sure loser. In Florida we had a vote years ago to put in a bullet train to connect Tampa to Orlando and eventually Orlando to Miami. The voters voted yes on the ballot and it got approved. Then Jeb thought it would be too expensive and decided the voters were misinformed and put a negative spin on the whole idea and put it on the ballot again a few years later and of course it was voted down because of negative publicity from the Jeb propaganda regime. Any politician who rejects the votes of the people because it was not what he or she personally wanted and then says the voters were wrong and I'm going to put this issue in a negative light and make them re-vote is not working for the people, but their own self interests or their lobbyist buddies. Florida is in desperate need of mass transportation and the upfront costs would have paid for themselves in the long run and removed many cars from the congested Florida highways. Thanks Jeb for being so "green" to us and I was so happy to see you leave. Please, take your cue from your failed brother W and realize people don't care what you think. Oh, by the way, I am a registered Republican. Imagine that.

    July 9, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. Interesting

    Funny they use stock footage from Jeb Bush when he was younger. Please update your photo to reflect what this crooked Politician looks like today. He like his brother are in it just for the Corporations regardless of what loss of life had to be in Iraq or how devastating they ruin the Country and the State of Florida.

    July 9, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Lynne

    Jeb just sounds like the same-old, same-old of the GOP. Like the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.

    July 9, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. DS

    He would not have been elected had he disclosed his agenda. And this is coming from GWB's brother.

    Shameless shameless shameless

    Still, he always says two decent things out of every ten. Not bad, for a Republican

    July 9, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. DX in TX

    Jeb is ticked because there will never be another Bush in the White House in his life time...what a loser!
    You should ask Karl Rove to groom your son, George P. Bush and maybe just maybe your klan will rise again....

    and Sarah Palin can be his Vice President...GEEZ A COLD CHILL JUST RAN DOWN MY SPINE.....

    July 9, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  21. hm,florida

    you don't know obama. you, like all your other republican "buddies" just can not leave this brilliant man alone. is he that much of a threat to you too??

    July 9, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Joel

    Here we go again...another Bush wanting to be President. Jeb should first check to see which President got us into this mess in the first place and while he is at it have him ask Charlie Christ to describe to everyone in what shape Jeb left Florida after being Governor. Every Republican in the universe is jocking to be the next mesiah for their party. Unless Jeb changes his last name to anything but Cheney he has no chance of being elected to anything. His brother took care of that. Oh yeah, he would also have to hope that all the video footage of the Terri Shivo debacle somehow disappeared off the face of the earth. Good luck, Jeb.

    July 9, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Republicans is smart in the head area

    I don't know if Jeb is a moron. Define moron for me. Oh, it's like his brother George? Then Jeb is a moron.

    July 9, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. john

    Jeb, you are a tool. One that doesn't work on any part. Get bent.

    July 9, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. John

    Jeb like his brother has fecal matter for brains. His comments are so far off base, and blind to the damage done by his remedial brother, and the republicans party in its entirety. Obama isn't a socialist, but keep talking with that strategy if you want Americans laughing at you, not with you. Conservatives have a mental illness just like their cousins from other religious extremists who believe God speaks to them over the short-wave deity network. Conservatives are part of a filthy, sub-culture of evangelical knuckle draggers.

    July 9, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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