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. Fair is Fair

    According to the Oxford dictionary:

    Socialism – a political system in which the state has control of industries and services.

    We may not be completely there yet, but we're heading in that direction.

    Automobile industry... financial services... utility industry... healthcare.

    July 9, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. donttreadonme

    Socialism: An economic system in which the production and distribution of goods are controlled substantially by the government rather than by private enterprise, and in which cooperation rather than competition guides economic activity.

    (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles.

    Change – Regulate – Control – Share the wealth

    Obama is a socialist –

    July 9, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. Sniffit

    Rest of the world "slams" collective head against the wall for having to listen to another Bush.

    July 9, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  4. Jenine

    You are right about not knowing about socialism- You are wrong about all your Republican talking points:: Obama on the campain trail never made issues about MCain's taxes (on the contrary please) Your brother's approval ratings were going down fast until 911, (which was a bad reason to do well) Should we really talk about the HIGH PRIORITY MEETINGS CLINTON WAS HAVING EVERY WEEK BECAUSE OF WHO CAME ON 911? AND YOUR BROTHER DIDN'T HAVE IT ON HIS AGENDA UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER THAT AWFUL YEAR????and this article's fact find on approval ratings has also proved you WRONG. Anyone who thinks Rush is anything but an evil force period, has to be part of that force to even approve, which YOU OBVIOUSLY DO. And your last paragraph says it all: I'm glad you had a blessed life; like the rest of your family, you have NO IDEA WHAT HARDSHIP MEANS.

    July 9, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  5. Randy

    He's just like his father and brother a clown.

    July 9, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. Harvey for Obama

    What does Jeb Bush know? I have been looking for intelligence in the Bush family for 15 years and have not seen any.

    July 9, 2009 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. Barry

    President Obama was elected because of the failure of George W.Bush and the Republican Party. His own brother should be willing to admit that. Since they lost, the more the Republicans say, tells me they will not admit the truth, nor tell it.

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Tom

    I love it! Each time a Bush opens their mouth being critical of the Obama administration it just strengthens my reserve that we have the absolute right person in the White House. The Palins and the Bushes are a gift to the Democratic party! Keep 'em talking!

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  9. Steve

    Another piece of sensationalist mis-information from the right wing lying scum who helped the filthy Republicans steal Florida in 2000 as they plotted the rape of the worlds' economy while polluting it's environment.

    An article called "I'm not sure if Jeb Bush is a fascist" is deserved except people on the left and center are not likely to engage in such transparent deceptions to create and then exploit unjustified fear.

    Rowe, Cheney, the Bushs and all the little "Bushies" belong in jail.

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. Jay - MN

    funny, another bush who doesn't care about those pesky things like facts and poll numbers.

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  11. trish

    hahaha,a bush ridiculing Obama,now that`s hilarious.Please go back under the rock where the rest of the bush`s are...Or better yet,why don`t you ask your brother for advice?Some stories are just way too stupid to print.

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  12. Linda

    Who cares what Jeb Bush says and how dare he criticize Obama for having to try to save the nation from the rape and illegal war, war profiteering and tax cuts for the wealthy that his brother did that destroyed our economy. How short is his memory? How long did the stupid Republicans go while letting Bush destroy our identity in the world, torture and spy, out CIA agents, fail to arm and protect our armed services?
    We do not forget, Jeb, who it was that put us in this mess. You have a lot of gall to criticize those who are trying to save us!

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. mbantam

    "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." - Yes Jeb what a great leader your brother was!!

    Yeah we want another Bush to justify aggression around the world and we should all be seeking counsel for Joe the Plumber types. Thanks but no thanks. The world is complex and we need leaders who are educated, articulate, curious, ability to think through issues

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. n boswell

    Anothe member of the Bush family who isn't too "bright."

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. David

    I don't know if President Obama is or is not a Socialist (I doubt it).

    I do know that Jeb's brother George was one of the worst presidents that this country has ever seen.

    Jeb... you want to slam somebody... slam your incompetent brother and his incompetent administration. That will keep you busy for quite some time.

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  16. G J Lau

    Jeez, a Republican who sounds almost normal, even level-headed. I'm surprised he hasn't been drummed out of the party by the keepers of the sacred flame or conservatism.

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. Sidney P.

    Where does Jeb Bush get off spouting off. Who is he really. The American people elected Obama because he is the absolute right man for the job, after Jeb's brother messed this country up. All we need is another Bush running his mouth about things that he knows nothing about. ALL BUSHES GO AWAY!!!!!!!!

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. Lance

    Is Jeb the smart, ethical Bush or the dumb one? Certainly he is moral, or is he?

    July 9, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    All Bushes can shut their mouths..... this country doesn't want you.

    July 9, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. Nathan,

    A bush accuseing someone of lying. Thats a riot. Wasn't it the GOP who said that Obama was going to raise taxes and not the other way around. This guy Bush is lying while accusing Obama of being a liar.

    If he dosen't think that Obama is a socialist then why not just say it and not make vague statements like" I don't know if he's a socialist". By the way Bush calling Obama a socialist during the election didn't work then and it won't work now.

    July 9, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  21. Joe

    JEB in 2012!!! I just read another article about how Obama wants to tax the rich to pay for health care. How many middle class conservatives are opposed to that? Do you guys work any less or put forth any less effort than the next guy pulling down mid six figures for being a project manager while you're the one actually doing the work? If you're a middle class conservative that's great, but the GOP does not represent traditional conservative ideals anymore. Rather, they've been exploited by – the GOP.

    But hey, you know.....put one of em' back in office and we can go blow another half a trillion bucks on war in the name of God.

    July 9, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  22. Derrick

    "Bush", the other four letter word that should be censored.

    July 9, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  23. ck

    had W said what he was going to do as a candidate he would have lost, too. see what i did just there, jeb? you dumb hillbilly.

    July 9, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. florida indep

    Jeb and the good-ol'-boys did for the state of Florida what his brother and the Repubican controled congress did for the nation. Put it into the crapper. Now his successor Charlie Christ and the rest of the incompotent state legislature have cut taxes so much that, like most states, when the economic downturn really hit the "Sunshine State" is almost as bad as California and Michigan. God, if there is one, help us if the Democrats get back into power as they will spend more to get us out of the Republican economic mess driving us further into disaster. Look at what is going on nationally, we are just a smaller mirror image.

    July 9, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. Michael

    I don't feel lied to. I knew exactly what President Obama's plans were. He told you what he was going to do, just not how much it was going to cost. If people didn't think critically about his plans and assess, for themselves, their inherent costs and benefits, then I blame the voter.

    July 9, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
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