Former Florida governor Jeb Bush joined me today:
HH: I’m pleased to begin the show with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Governor Bush, welcome back to the program, great to have you.
JB: Thank you, Hugh, sorry I can’t be with you out there.
HH: Well, let’s begin with the two big decisions – King V. Burwell yesterday on Obamacare, and the marriage decision today, Governor Bush. What’s your reaction to both those decisions and the role of the Court in America today?
JB: Well, I’m disappointed in both decisions. And it’s important, I think, to think about going forward what kind of judges we need particularly on the highest court in the land. And I’ve given that some thought, because I was governor of Florida. And when I was governor, we tried to find people with a proven record of judicial restraint, and people that were committed to enforcing the Constitutional limits on government authority. In essence, what I’m saying is I think we need to have people that have not just theoretically, but have had a proven record of not legislating from the bench. And these are talented, smart people, but these two decisions are really disappointing.
HH: On Election Day, Governor, Justice Ginsberg will be 83, Justice Scalia, 80, Kennedy, 80, Breyer, 78, so there’ll be a lot, probably, in front of the next president. Your father appointed Justices Thomas and Souter, your brother, the Chief Justice and Alito. All justices disappoint their presidents sometime, but Souter was like a 90% swing and a miss. How do you avoid Souters?
JB: I think the way you do it is that you focus on people that are qualified to be Supreme Court justices that have a proven record of judicial restraint. And so I think you have to be all in to fight for people that have a record, because today in America, the minute you have a record, you’re subject to attack. But that’s the best way to prove that someone has a consistency in their view of, in terms of judicial philosophy.
HH: I’m curious of your opinion on the Chief Justice. He’s an old colleague of mine, Chief Justice Roberts. I disagreed with him yesterday, I agreed with him today. But I know he’s a man of absolute integrity, and that his arguments are always reasonable, even when I disagree with him. Is he still a model for you going forward as he was for President George W. Bush?
JB: Well, I liked one of his rulings, and I didn’t like the other, but he is a person of unimpeachable integrity and great intelligence, and I’ve met him a few times. And he’s an impressive guy for sure. I think going forward, where we’re left as it relates to the marriage issue is it’s important for all of us to stay engaged, because I think what we need to do is try to make sure that religious freedom and conscience is protected, and also have a society that is just and loving that doesn’t discriminate. And I think if we can’t figure out how to do that, then we’re in a heap of trouble as a nation. I think we can do it, but it’s going to require a lot more than just this ruling to sort this stuff out.
HH: Yeah, I’m at Colorado Christian University this week teaching young conservatives. The first question I got this morning is what’s going to happen to the tax-exempt status of Christian universities that reject other than marriage between one man and one woman, and believe in fact intimacy outside of the marriage to be sinful? And I said I don’t really think it’s in danger. What do you think, Jeb Bush? Is that tax-exempt status in danger?
JB: Well, the ruling kind of leaves it to be sorted out. It wasn’t a definitive ruling that protects the universality of religious freedom. So I think there’s going to be a period of time where this is sorted out with other court cases. I think when you, I think tax-exempt status is probably more protected than work-related issues, or this is, there’s varying degrees of this. This is going to be something that’s not going away for a while, and I think we’re big enough as a country to make sure that we have, that we respect people in long-term, loving relationships, and that we allow people to act on their religious faith, not just to have them, you know, have their private views that they can have in their own house or in the pews of their church, but they can act on their sense of consciousness. And if we do that, you know, we’ll protect the first freedom as well as just not being a society that organizes itself around discriminating people.
HH: Jeb Bush, the last time we talked to you in my studio and you were defending the first draft of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is Jeb Bush all in to protect Free Exercise Clause rights?
JB: Yeah, I think, again, the balance is that we should have a society where we don’t, that we respect people, be respectful of, be respective of their sexual orientation, but I think we need to protect, this is, it’s called the first freedom for a reason. And I don’t think that that’s a contradiction. I’ve been speaking about this, actually, the callous of it started when we had our conversation on the radio, but it’s continued with my speech at Liberty University, and I speak about this a lot, because I think it’s a looming issue of real importance.
HH: Now I want to turn to the Obamacare decision. Obviously, you’re for repealing and replacing it. If necessary, should Republicans invoke the Reid rule and break the filibuster under a President Jeb Bush in order to repeal and replace Obamacare?
JB: I think we, Republicans first need to unify behind a replacement. And that’s what the ’16 campaign is going to be about. This ruling, while disappointing, doesn’t change anything. I’m going to, as a candidate, I’m going to lay out a constructive alternative to Obamacare, and I’m going to try to persuade people to move in that direction. If there’s unity there, then we can act. Right now, though, you know, we have, for the last few years, we’ve been organized against Obamacare for sure, and people have really made principled efforts to repeal it. But there hasn’t been any kind of unity about what the alternative is, and that’s where my focus is.
HH: There isn’t much of a way to get to 60 votes, though, if the Democrats hang together and block us in the Senate. At that point, would you at least be open to making the argument that on this issue, before it gets its tentacles too deep, that we break the filibuster and ram through a repeal and replacement?
JB: I’d have to see what the, if the replacement is what I’m going to advocate, then I might consider that, because I think a free market-oriented approach where people are empowered to make more of these health care decisions, where they’re supported through the tax code, and we focus on high-deductible, low premium catastrophic coverage as the replacement that’s portable, that allows us to grow our economy again, and allows for a rising disposable income for the great middle of our country, then I would certainly consider it. But first and foremost, I’m going to advocate that and try to persuade people that that’s a better way.
HH: Now Jeb Bush, you put out a great statement on the OPM data breach. You and, I think, Carly Fiorina are the only Republicans who seem to have gotten the importance of that. Should the President fire those people at OPM and bring in a new team?
JB: Absolutely. She should have been, never have been hired. As I understand, she was the political director of the Obama reelection campaign. Just by definition, that’s pretty much a disqualifier, in my mind. It’s, not everybody in politics is bad, by any stretch, but it sends a pretty powerful signal that the head of the HR department of the federal government was a political hack. I just think that was wrong, and her testimony, from, on the parts that I’ve seen, that’s been published, shows that she refuses to acknowledge any accountability, any responsibility. This is a growing, endemic problem in the Obama administration. No one accepts responsibility.
HH: I think that extends as well…
JB: And this is a huge security problem for our country.
HH: I think that refusal to accept responsibility extends to the former Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton, and her server. Mike Morell, the former deputy director of the CIA, said on this show it’s almost certain her server was compromised by hostile agencies. Do you think that server and the fact that she put the national security second behind her privacy concerns is going to be an issue in the general campaign?
JB: I do think it’s going to be an issue, and I think it’s also an issue that President Obama hasn’t even gone to Fort Meade to the headquarters of the NSA to applaud the efforts of our counterintelligence people. These are patriots that are keeping us safe, and it’s been, it has been deemphasized, and we’re starting to see the results of this. The OPM is the worst of this, but there’s other cases as well, and look, Secretary Clinton is going to have to be held to account for her private server. I can’t imagine that the security of her server in her home in New York is going to be better than it would be at the Department of State. At least I hope not.
HH: Last question, Jeb Bush.
JB: Maybe they’re hacking into the Department of State, too. Who knows?
JB: But this is a serious challenge. This is a threat to our national security. You think about security clearances. I don’t know how, you know, again, this is speculation on my part, but when you fill out these forms for security clearances, you’re giving up information that goes way beyond the person that’s applying for the clearance to all sorts of other information. This is a treasure trove, and if it’s true the Chinese have this stuff, this is, this is as bad as Snowden, or as bad as Bradley Manning.
HH: I agree. Last question, three terror attacks today – Tunisia, France and Kuwait, and they’re all horrific, and they’re all ISIS-related. Have you heard from your advisors that the United States is uniquely at risk right now in a way that we haven’t been since right before 9/11?
JB: I haven’t, but it’s just anecdotally, you see these rising threats across the region and across the world, and you have to be concerned. And when you post that up to the reality that this President has been asked twice in the last little more than six months do we have a strategy, and he has openly admitted that we don’t. And I think he’s had ample time to develop a strategy, to garner the support internationally for that strategy, and to act on that strategy. But we are doing this in a piecemeal fashion, and ISIS and their affiliates continue to wreak havoc on Western Civilization. This a serious threat, and we’re not taking it seriously.
HH: Governor Jeb Bush, it is always good to talk to you. Thanks to you for joining us, hope you do more and more talk radio as we get closer to the debates.
End of interview.