Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush tells Newsmax that the Obama administration is charting a “dangerous course” as it pushes for a dramatic expansion of government that “imperils our future.”
Bush predicted that a “tsunami” of opposition to President Barack Obama's redistributive policies will sweep away Democratic candidates this November, and a popular “uprising” is under way that will shake the pillars of Washington.
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Bush also said Obama is surrounded by “political hacks,” described Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts a “pivotal moment” in American history, and said Obama needs to be more aggressive in dealing with tyrants in Iran and Venezuela.
See Newsmax.TV's Video Interview with Jeb Bush below.
Bush was elected governor in 1998 and served two terms during a period of great economic growth in Florida.
A popular governor, he has been credited widely with spurring that growth by keeping taxes low and holding down spending. He won high praise for handling natural disasters, no less than six major hurricanes barreled into Florida’s coastlines during his tenure. He also spearheaded reforms that have led to tremendous improvements in the state’s education system.
Today, Bush is in private business and works with several charities and foundations. He told Newsmax he presently has no plans to run for president in 2012, although he has been touted as a candidate. He hinted that he might seek office at a later date if he and his family were financially secure.
Newsmax.TV’s Ashley Martella and Kathleen Walter pointed to high unemployment levels, a rising federal deficit and looming healthcare expansion, and asked Bush for his assessment of the situation in Washington.
“We’re on a dangerous course in Washington for sure,” he responded.
“The downturn was real and still a lot of people are suffering from the financial meltdown and the loss of jobs. It seems to me the Obama administration, instead of trying to solve that problem with common-sense American solutions, is trying to take advantage of it to redefine who we are as a nation.
“I’m very disturbed about this, and more importantly millions of Americans are. They are acting on their concerns in a way that gives me a lot of hope that we’re going to rebound economically, and also politically, to bring back the proper balance between the citizens of our country and the government that’s supposed to be serving them.”
Martella observed that Obama’s team seems intent on blaming his predecessor, Jeb’s brother George W., for virtually every problem the nation faces.
“From a political point of view, I don’t think that helps the president,” the former governor declared. “Pushing somebody down to make yourself look good was something my mother taught me didn’t work.
“At some point, the president needs to realize he’s no longer a candidate, he’s the leader of the greatest country on the face of the earth, and he has to begin to lead. I think a lot of people will follow him if he actually leads. But if everything’s political and everything’s about the past, then I think he’ll see declining poll numbers as we see today.”
Obama Policies: ‘Not American’
Newsmax.TV asked whether Obama is the most liberal president in the nation’s history.
Bush said he tries to avoid such labels but went on to say: “If he believes that government ought to consume 40 percent of the economy, of the economic output, I don’t know what you’d call that, but it’s not American.
“If he believes that redistributing wealth will create more prosperity for more people, that’s been tried and it’s failed. What he should believe is that the interaction of millions of people freely pursuing their dreams will create more prosperity for more people than any government program. That’s the American way.
He criticized Obama for not bringing into government business leaders and entrepreneurs to advise him.
“They’re all academics or they’re political hacks,” Bush said of Obama’s circle.
Brown’s capture of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts is “fantastic,” Bush said. “You think about, had he not won, what the course of history would look like.
“We’d probably have this massive 2,000-page bill or some version of it thrust upon the American people for healthcare. We would have an increasing move toward treating the war on terror as some kind of civilian criminal action. And we would have candidates running for office who probably could get elected maintaining the status quo.
“Now you see this tsunami of reaction to the election and to people’s fears and hopes, and candidates who feel they might be in the way of that tsunami are not running.
“It will go down in history as one of those pivotal moments in the course of our country,” and if conservatives “step up,” it will lead to “the beginning of the restoration of the foundational aspects of our country.”
Bush called the tea party movement “a very natural uprising that is wonderful. These are people acting upon their fears about the future of our country.”
Republicans could benefit from this, he said, but they need to “believe in limited government and act on those beliefs with a 21st-century agenda that is hopeful and optimistic, and is principled in opposition to this dramatic, dramatic expansion of government that imperils our future.”
Asked whether Sarah Palin, who supports the tea party movement, is a viable presidential candidate for 2012, Bush said: “Sarah Palin has a role to play in the future of the party irrespective of whether she’s a candidate. She appeals to a large group of people who are deeply concerned about the future of this country.”
Obama ‘Defaults’ to Bush Terror Policies
Walter noted that George Bush kept America safe from terrorist attacks for more than seven years, and asked: “By claiming to be the anti-Bush, are Obama and his policies making this nation less safe?”
“I think it would be good to build on the successes of the previous administration and deal with the issues where we have problems,” Bush answered.
“In fact what is happening is, because he overpromised politically, now he’s defaulting back to my brother’s positions on many of these national security issues because it’s the right thing to do.
“Maybe he should have started there, but I’m glad he ends up there because we’re still at war. He’s a wartime president whether he likes it or not, and he needs to act that way.”
Bush also said the Obama administration’s decision to offer Miranda rights to terror suspects and try them in civilian courts was a “huge mistake,” and that “to believe the president was not part of this decision makes no sense at all.”
Obama Weak on Iran and Chavez
Turning to Iran, Bush said: “I don’t think the military option should ever be taken off the table.
“I think the president could start by being less timid in his support of the democracy and freedom movement in Iran. A democratic Iran would not be a threat to its neighbors or to the United States.
“The president is the leader of the free world. But for the United States, who will defend people who aspire to freedom around the world? Iran is the place where this plays out in a way that’s really important for our own national security interests and the security interests of the region.”
Bush called Hugo Chavez’s regime in Venezuela “the model of incremental moves toward totalitarian regimes,” saying Chavez has taken away freedoms “incrementally to the point where Venezuela is on the edge of losing its status as a democracy.
“Being passive in this and thinking that we can be friends with our enemies just by extending the hand of friendship is naïve.”
“We can play a positive role to support the student movement and other elements of Venezuelan society that are fighting back against Chavez …
“Sheer ineptitude and incompetency and corruption will bring down the Chavez regime, but we can’t sit back passively and let this happen naturally. I think we need to be much more engaged in the region.”
Oval Office Meeting
Bush doubts that the GOP will retake the Senate in November, but thinks there is a better chance of the House changing hands.
He also said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “worldview is completely out of the mainstream of American thinking.”
Bush disclosed that he and his father recently visited with Obama in the Oval Office, and he said Obama was “incredibly kind to my dad, the greatest man I’ve ever met. To see the way the president dealt with my frail and beautiful father was something I’ll always remember.”
Bush said that, despite speculation he might run for president in 2012, he has no plans to seek the White House at this point.
“I’ve got to fulfill my obligations and duties and my desire to be a good husband and a good father,” he told Newsmax.
“That’s what I’m doing now. I can’t tell you when that mission will be complete.”
Politically, he added, “I am involved and I stay involved. But as a candidate right now I don’t see it.”
As for the Florida Senate race to be decided this year, Bush said he has not decided yet whether he will endorse either of the two Republican candidates in primary, Gov. Charlie Crist or former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.
Bush said Crist is a “talented guy” and “about the nicest guy I’ve ever met in politics.” But he added that the stimulus bill is “a massive spending bill that is not related to stimulus, it is related to trying to carry out a liberal agenda,” and said that, as a Republican, Crist’s support for the bill was “unforgivable.”
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