UPDATED: See the full version of Chuck's interview with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
For years, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has resisted invitations to throw his hat into the presidential ring. That may end soon. In a conversation with The Daily Rundown’s Chuck Todd, the former Republican governor seemed to go further than ever before.
“I’m not saying yes. I’m just not saying no,” said Bush. “I’ve accomplished some things in my life that allow me now to, to have that kind of discretion, to be able to think about it.”
If he does run, Bush says he will take a different tack than other Republicans, arguing that the party’s message has gotten bogged down with a negative tone and has become too focused on what the party is against instead of what it’s for.
“You cannot sustain a message of being against things. You have to be for things. There are a whole lot of people that aren’t too impressed. ‘Okay, we got that. We understand you’re against the president. What are you for?” And we we’ve really kind of forgotten that,” he said Tuesday.
Bush went on to push for a more fully fleshed-out platform that the party can run on. “Maybe we should have a view on immigration, which we now, is emerging, have a view on education reform, have a view on regulatory reform, have a view on healthcare reform, have a view on tax policy and recognizing that the Republicans control 1/2 of 1/3 of the government in Washington. You know, be principled in the advocacy of these views—and not just be against things.”
The 60-year-old also said that if he gets into the 2016 race, he’d take lessons learned by watching his father, his brother and the most recent Republican nominee, Mitt Romney. “It became clear during the election that if you turn people off that are aspirational in nature, that could be part of your team, because of the tone— on immigration particularly—you’re not gonna win people’s vote,” Bush says. “You have to connect with them on an emotional level first before you can—connect with them, you know, with, with policy. And we’re not doing a very good job with that right now.”
Bush says the immigration issue is a prime example of the party’s inability to connect with people and give them “policies they can invest in.” In his new book, Immigration Wars, Bush puts forward a vision for immigration policy, but interestingly, opted not to include a path to citizenship, believing the party wouldn’t support it. He says the current political environment has given him the chance to rethink his position.
“Our immigration laws should be more strategic in their approach. So I think a path to legal status, where people can come out from the shadows, is satisfactory in that regard,” Bush told Todd. “I think we need comprehensive reform. And if there is a path to citizenship that has enough of a realization that we have to respect the rule of law, then so be it.”