Former Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax TV's
"America's Forum" Thursday that likely GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush's ideas, revealed on a recently re-covered video clip
, about repopulating Detroit with immigrants would simply not work.
In the video, recorded in April 2013 during a "Family Reunion" conference sponsored by the Hispanic Leadership Network, Bush also said he supports an accelerated path to citizenship for "Dreamers," reports CNN
, which released the recording Wednesday after receiving it from the Democrat tracking firm American Bridge.
Bush, in the video
, suggests that the mayor of Detroit, the city where he was to give his first policy address of the potential 2016 campaign on Wednesday, should use immigrants to "repopulate" the city, to make it "one of the great American cities again."
And, he said then, "it would look different, it wouldn't be Polish ... But it would be just as powerful, just as exciting, just as dynamic. And that's what immigration does and to be fearful of this, it just seems bizarre to me."
Hoekstra, the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told host J.D. Hayworth that cities that need growth can't be repopulated "simply by moving in immigrants."
Instead, he said, areas can only be repopulated "by creating an environment that's going to result in jobs and economic growth. You create that kind of environment, the people will come and government shouldn't be moving in."
And, Hoekstra said that he does not know what Michigan residents are saying about Bush's comments, but "I know the people there. They're saying 'give us the economic framework, we can build it, we can build opportunity, we don't need government to force people to move there and we want to be a magnet for growth because of what's happening here.'"
CNN said that when the video was made, Bush was speaking to an audience of establishment Republicans. But now, as the former governor is considering a presidential run, his comments are already causing him problems with conservatives, who reacted with surprise with some of Bush's statements.
Story continues below video.
When it comes to "Dreamers," or people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, Bush commented in the 2013 appearance that he has "never felt like the sins of the parents should be ascribed to the children. For people who have no country to go back to — which are many of the Dreamers — it's ridiculous to think that there shouldn't be some accelerated path to citizenship."
Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said his comments were not a departure from his other positions on immigration reform, and that he has been "extraordinarily clear" that the border crisis should be addressed by fixing "our broken immigration system."
Bush further praised Sens. Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake for pursuing bipartisan Senate immigration reform, telling the 2013 crowd to encourage them to "stay the course."
In addition to Hoekstra, other conservative lawmakers did not directly attack Bush, but still showed surprise at his comments.
Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said he did not think Bush would suggest an accelerated pathway for Dreamers when CNN posed the question to him about a hypothetical case, and then when he was told about the video, refused further comment as he hadn't seen it.
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King also avoided a direct attack on Bush, but said his comment about "repopulating" Detroit was surprising, and that he would "probably have sat on the mountaintop a long time before I would have thought of that."
Bush's comments could come back to haunt him, though, if he attempts to move further right to attract voters, said American Bridge spokesman Jesse Lehrich, who told CNN that Bush is guilty of "flagrant pandering" while in front of a friendly audience, but that he leans right under other circumstances.
"It turns out that if you put Jeb Bush in the right room, he talks like Ted Kennedy," said Lehrich. "Put him somewhere else and he's the 'head-banging conservative' he once declared himself.
"Maybe he doesn't realize how much has changed in the 13 years since he last ran for public office, but these days, the cameras are always rolling — and flagrant pandering isn't a good look."
© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.