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. Quick2822

    It doesn't make any sense because everything Obama has done was what he campaigned on, except the stimulus package.

    Sounds like big brother just has an angry face.

    July 9, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Stanley Lehto Washington

    Typical Bush crap !!!!

    July 9, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  3. austinrob

    The last person we need to be asking about how to solve the country's problems is anyone with the last name of Bush.

    July 9, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  4. Joe

    Man, CNN will report anything.

    Whether or not you agree with Obama, the actions he's taken on the economy and with energy have been right in line with the views he gave us on the campaign trail.

    July 9, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. FedUp

    "He made it appear like McCain was going to raise taxes, which was unfair, but there was no response back."...maybe that's because he was right about McCain and taxing indirectly...
    And guess what, call him what you like, your brother was the most polarizing president in the history of this country and look what we have to show for it...had a bunch of thugs surround him and bleed the common man of money and eventually his job...glass house baby...watch where you throw that stone!

    July 9, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. Doug, New Jersey

    Look up the definition of Socialist, examine the history of the countries led by leaders who were socialists, and then take a factual non biased look at Obama's first 6 months. If you want to say he is not a socialist then you have to admit that of the 44 presidents this nation has had, not one has come closer than Barak Obama. Taker libs love socialism, even if they don't know what it means. It translates to them getting more for doing nothing but leech on society, cry victim, and vote Democrat, while hard working, honest Americans get robbed of their hard earned wealth. This redistribution of wealth is now what the Democrat party stands for. For the libs it is all about power, I'll take the money hungry right over the oppress the people and take their rights in our quest for power left.

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  7. InlandEmperor

    Jeb, maybe you better read some of your brothers comments...as well as his fellow neo-cons...before accusing this President of misleading the electorate. This is just another attempt to diminish the enormous damage Bush and his bunch did to the US while their group was in office. Nice try...it won't work.

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    I believe the better question would be if Jeb Bush's brother George W is a moron, liar, deceiver, self righteous crook.... Oh yeah, he couldn't be all that, he is a "Christian." And Jeb's comment regarding Rush Limbaugh shows what narrow idiot he is also. Anybody who can look at Rush as anything but a fat, opportunistic slob who will sacrifice everybody else for his own greater good must be of the same stripe.

    But then Jeb has a "blessed" life. Excuse me... I gotta go throw up.

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. D

    Nobody cares what you think jeb.

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. Texico

    Please file this under "idiot"!

    This clown is no better than his brother.....the idiotic right needs to wake up and understand that their agenda is old and pretty much over. Hey GOP YOU NEED TO GO REDEFINE WHAT YOU STAND FOR!

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. Steve in Denver

    Always glad to see that things like facts and statistics don't get in republican's way. W's ratings higher than Obama's? Except when the statistics actually show that the reverse is true.

    Is Jeb really that ignorant, or does he just subscribe to the Limbaugh doctrine- lie loud, lie outrageous, lie often, and shout it even louder, and some morons will believe you.

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. James

    Wow, Jeb...do us all a favor and FADE AWAY! You are in such denial...and NO ONE wants to see you as President...or anyone else in your lineage.

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. cjr

    who cares – what he thinks – he's from texas and that is a negative from the first – he's part of the crowd that wanted to leave the union and then changed their mind when they found out that the rest of us wanted them to leave also! Also the bush family really doesn't have a lot of credibilty these days anyway.


    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Neecy

    Jeb Bush should sit down and shut up. He should have been very critical of his brother (George W.) and the country wouldn't be in this mess. Like his brother, what an idiot.

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Mark in Miami

    Jeb is exactly right. The more we learn about Obama, the more his poll numbers tank. Obama has already done so much damage in the first 6 months in office, it's hard to imagine what it will be llike at the end of 4 yrs. OUCH!

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. Danny, OH

    If your brother BUSH can win 2 terms, who else in this country cannot win an election.
    Just find a place to hide and get a life.

    July 9, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. Mr. America

    hey, pal, little bush forever disgrace your name, and palin just made it official: the GOP is DEAD.

    July 9, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. Jefferey Cohen

    Keep it comming Bush. The more a Bush, Limbaugh, Palin, Bhoener speaks, the more we are are reminded how refreshing it is to have Obama. The old politics of scare tactic no longer works. Also, Thank GOD for Bush's 8 years because it brought us Obama.

    July 9, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  19. Meredith

    He is right. Obama didn't speak honestly with voters, he did tip toe around each controversial issue...misleading all of us. Now, after the stimulus money has been paid to his special interest groups and we are all still trying to eek out a living, there's even talk of spending more. So I have one question? Who will be foolish enough to vote for him in 2012? Not me!

    July 9, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. JOHN

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

    Who cares about you?

    July 9, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  21. ken, holland pa

    "he made it appear that mccain was going to raise taxes, which was unfair"

    just like his brother and dick cheney made themsevles out to be tough war heroes when they were pretty much draft dodgers. just like his brother and dick cheney made it appear that sadam hussein had weapons of mass destruction and were part of 9/11. man, i could go on and on. here's the deal. the less we hear from anyone named bush, the better. if this country was operating the way it is supposed, we wouldn't need to do all of these band aids that make it look like socialism. but we do. thanks to way to much deregulation (republican montra) of the financial markets. it's nice to see the people with plenty of old family hand down money call everything socialism. i am sure if he did not have any of daddy's money and was laid off, he would opt out of and not ask for unemployment compensation.

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  22. Ed from the western slope of Colorado

    A big DUH, Jeb.... If you didn't get what President Obama was about from his campaign, then I would say you were having too many bacon rinds with your brother George down in Crawford. His agenda is why he won. He saw the problems facing America and we all know how well the free market helps out.

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  23. Portland. Maine

    Jeb Bush is as ignorant as his brother. First, he doesn't know the definition of a "socialist" ("I don't know. Define socialism for me). Second he sounds like a moron when he says statements like ""First of all, who cares?" in regards to PRESIDENT Obama's approval ratings. Third he is a supporter of one the biggest traitors in American, Boss Limbaugh.

    Sorry Jeb....you're not going to get anywhere near the White House in your lifetime.....

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. Vern Lawer

    As he declared in the approval ratings Bush's comments are in the category of "who cares what this self centered jerk thinks" The bush clan just will never get the point, after all self indulgence is a sickness.

    July 9, 2009 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
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