Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the Republican Party needs to change its tone on the issue of immigration in order to win the Hispanic vote.
“We’ve got to have a better tone going forward over the long haul, for sure,” Bush said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “You can’t ask people to join your cause and then send a signal that you’re really not wanted. It just doesn’t work.”
Bush said the party must do a better job of reaching out to a broader audience, including not only Hispanics, but also middle-class voters and women.
“We have to change the tone of our message,” he said. “This is going to be a close election, but long-term conservative principles, if they’re to be successful and implemented, there has to be a concerted effort to reach out to a much broader audience than we do today.”
Bush will also address the Republican National Convention this week on the topic of education. He said he is passionate about the topic because knowledge equals power.
“If a third of our kids are college- and / or career-ready by the time they reach 12th grade, that’s a tragedy because there’s no amount of government programs that can ever fill that void,” he said. “I’m passionate about this because I think the American political system has become so short-run in its nature, and we need to be much longer-term in our thinking and begin to solve problems.”
Bush supports the Romney / Ryan ticket because the candidates bring the big issues to the table.
“I think Mitt wins when it’s about these big things, and if it’s about the constant distractions, it’d be a very, very close race,” he said. “I think Republicans really need to be disciplined to stay focused on sustained economic growth as our objective, and here’s how we’re going to do it, and here’s why the president’s failed.”
On the issue of Medicare, which is of particular interest to Florida voters, Bush said he backs Ryan’s plan to reform it.
“Of all the people in Washington, he’s the one guy that has had the courage to lay out plans with great substance that are big and broad,” he said. “It’s not some kind of radical experiment. It’s the right thing to do to create some cap on the explosive growth of the Medicare program.
“We’re yapping too much instead of trying to find common ground, which is why I’m excited that Mitt Romney’s our nominee,” Bush continued. “If you have a leader like that, you could see how you could get common ground done.”
When host David Gregory asked Bush whether he wants to be president, the 59-year-old answered, “I don’t think about it. I’m not motivated by it. I’m not there yet in my life.”
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