By constantly blaming his brother for the nation’s economic problems, Jeb Bush says President Barack Obama “abandoned” his chance to lead and continues to reinforce the view among many Americans that he has no new ideas about how to fix anything.
“No one is suggesting that he wasn’t coming into the presidency with tough economic issues,” Bush told Fox News’ Bret Baier in an interview aired Tuesday. “But what has he done to fix them? I think that's where people ascribe blame.
“And the constant referral back [to the George W. Bush presidency], to constantly say, ‘Look, it’s not my fault, I have no ability to deal with this,’ is weakness. We need strong leadership, not weak leadership,” added Bush, the former Florida governor who many in the Republican Party had hoped would mount a run of his own for the White House.
Bush, who will address the Republican convention tonight in Tampa, said Obama had two opportunities to prove that he could work toward solutions and find common ground with Republicans.
The first, he said, was right after he was elected on his message of hope and change, but “from the get-go . . . did the stimulus and healthcare bill and poisoned the well.”
The second opportunity, he said, was after “the shellacking in 2010” the Democrats took in the elections. He said Obama should have done “what Bill Clinton did in 1995, which was recast the order of things again” and work with Republicans.
Instead, the president “doubled down on this hard-edged” approach and “abandoned the chance to lead,” Bush said.
Bush said he believes Mitt Romney’s choice of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate is an indication of the kind of leader he would be, someone who’s serious about confronting problems head-on and finding solutions.
“I think the selection of Paul Ryan is a leading indicator this is an election about the big things,” he told Baier. “The president would love nothing more to have it be about the small things on the margin. I think [former Massachusetts] Gov. Romney wins, and may win with a better than expected margin, if he talks about big things that people know need to get fixed.”
Bush said Romney’s life has been “all about solving problems, getting from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ in the most efficient way, in a way that improves whatever it is he is working.”
Bush said he would expect Romney to do something Obama has failed to do — to find “creative ways to reach across the aisle . . . to find common ground” and refrain from “doing speeches attacking opponents.”
“That is who he has been as governor and how he ran the Olympics, and I would expect that to be case if he is elected president,” he added.
Bush was also asked about whether the Republican Party has done enough to appeal to Hispanic voters.
“OK is about as good as I can say to be honest with you,” Bush responded, adding that “in the heat of the campaign, it's difficult” to do the kind of outreach that really attracts people to the party.
He said party leaders need to make the push for Hispanic voters a high priority in off elections years.
“And I think you need to have Hispanic elected officials be the voice for this,” Bush continued. “Thankfully the Republican Party has been the party who has elected people like [Nevada Gov.] Brian Sandoval, and [New Mexico Gov.] Susana Martinez, and [Florida Sen.]Marco Rubio, and [Texas Senate candidate]Ted Cruz this fall.”
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