Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush joined me to complete our conversation from yesterday which was truncated by cell phone travails:
HH: 21 minutes after the hour, America. Yesterday, former Florida governor Jeb Bush called in and we had cell phone problems and issues and I want to have a chance to finish that conversation so welcome back, Governor Bush, it’s great to have you again.
JB: Thank you, Hugh. “I Will Rise Up,” I like that music.
HH: It is good music, you are rising up. I got to ask you, Politico seems desiring to kill you off today. They have two headlines, “Bush Machine Marching on Fumes” and “How Marco Slew his Mentor.” What’s up with that?
JB: Oh, they’re fascinated with the horse-race stuff, that’s all they do. I’m fascinated about how I can fix the mess in Washington D.C. and allow people’s income to rise and how we can be safe and secure. The overall process of this kind of drives me nuts.
HH: Am I correct that with possible exception of you and Donald Trump, the five Republicans get along pretty well with each other but Donald Trump has his troubles with you? Is my general assessment right?
JB: (Laughs) You know, I don’t think Donald likes me, I have to admit that. I have a good relationship with everybody. All the previous candidates and those that are still on the stage. I respect all of them and I think we have a good relationship, but Donald is a little different in that [if] you’ll go after him on principle, he gets angry and he walks away.
HH: Well, I want to talk about one thing that he discussed with Anderson Cooper I just talked to about, on Saturday night’s debate, he said your brother lied about WMD’s, he backed it up yesterday. I have been reading Mike Hayden’s book on the flight. Terrific public servant, playing to the edge. He writes on page 49, “But we all thought that there was case for weapons of mass destruction.” Governor Bush, does anyone seriously doubt that, that everybody believed there were WMD’s in ?
JB: Everybody. Bill Clinton believed it, my brother believed it, the CIA believed it, Hillary Clinton believed it, all of the leaders of Europe believed it. Michael Moore and Donald Trump were the only two people apparently that don’t believe it. It’s the extra Left that perpetuates this mythology.
HH: And is this an issue in this race?
JB: No, it isn’t.
And the fact that he claims that my brother lied is crazy and wacky, that he thought that Nancy Pelosi should have impeached him, shows an unhinged nature, but this all about the past. And he also supported the war. It turns outs, some poor guy from Buzzfeed spent hours listening to Donald Trump, apparently [he] did an interview every week with Howard Stern, that seemed so appropriate, and listened to all these interviews and in case in 2002, he said he supported the war.
HH: Let me–
JB: This is all just a game for Donald, and what’s at stake is who can beat Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders and who can restore America’s greatness by changing how we tax and how we regulate and rebuilding our military so that the next president can back up whatever his policies are with the greatest fighting force known to man.
HH: Now one of the most important decisions taken by President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton was assist in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi and that has resulted in, because there was no follow-up plan in place, much worse actually than in Iraq, we eventually stabilized Iraq in 2011, I don’t know that we’re going to stabilized Libya. It’s become an ISIS generator. Was that a mistake to back Gaddafi’s opposition, Jeb Bush?
JB: If we were to take out Gaddafi and do nothing, that was the worst of the three options. The better option would have been to engage and create and support a government that would have broad-based support that over time would create stability, but we didn’t, we left them behind, we basically stayed in the air, militias came and killed Gaddafi, and we didn’t follow up nor did Europe for that matter. And that’s the lesson learned of any kind of engagement, you got to have a political and diplomatic solution at the end of it or you create a worse situation.
HH: Now I want to turn to SCOTUS because I spend a lot of time in the last few days. Do you personally, Governor Bush, understand the conservative base’s passion about this and the fact that a lot of GOP senator’s are hiding on this issue?
JB: I’m very concerned, I totally get it because a 5-4 split the other way could have major impact on personal liberty, on religious consciousness, on the 2nd Amendment, on business climate issues, it could be very, very significant and I think the Republicans need to fight to defeat any nominee of Barack Obama because he will appoint nominees that are outside the mainstream of judicial thought, I believe.
HH: Do you believe in just declaring no hearings, no votes? Because the senate majority leader came out very strong and immediately some Republicans started to waffle because D.C. media elites are in favor of the court going left, but no hearings, no votes, that ends it.
JB: That does end it and I’m respectful of the senate rules and if that’s what they want to do, I support that. I also think this is an impeachable moment, is that what they call it?
JB: There’s a chance to defend the Constitution. This election could be about big things if we allow people to decide who they want to have selecting the Supreme Court nominees and–
HH: Would you be comfortable running–
JB: . . . And aggressive pursuing the support of religious freedom in the 2nd Amendment, the majority of Americans believe like we do on that.
HH: Would you be comfortable running a general election that required a lot of conversation about constitutional issues and law cases and cases that may be obscure but need to be explained, but nevertheless, I think, resonate with the center, with independents, with Democrats.
JB: Yes, I’m not sure about getting into the, you know me, I’d probably get into the obscurities of court rulings even though I’m not a lawyer (chuckles). I think there’s a way to make this a case in a broader context though, why judicial activism is a danger and why judicial restraint is the way to go, and it clearly could be a profoundly positive issue for us if we played offense on it, I think it would be a winning issue and it would set the stage for the next president having a mandate to appoint in the mode of Scalia.
HH: Now setting aside the counter-attempts between the pope and Donald Trump. The pope had a moving visit to Mexico and he went to the border. What message do you think he was sending. Did he encourage people to try and cross illegally or did he sympathize with those who suffer in doing so?
JB: I think he was showing empathy and sympathy for people that are living in poverty. That’s his principal message, that we should have mercy and show support for the downtrodden. I disagreed with his depiction of Donald Trump as someone who is not a Christian. I just don’t think that, A, that’s appropriate in the midst of a political battle, and B, my personal view at least is that that’s between him and his Creator, not for others to decide that so it might of helped Trump in South Carolina. Who knows? But the pope is an important religious leader, he is the leader of my church and I respect him enormously.
HH: And I want to close because you said this yesterday, but I want to clarify because it’s contrary to every story out there. Are you in this at least through the 2nd Super Tuesday on March 15th?
JB: My expectation is that I will be and I’m heading off to Las Vegas on 12 o’clock, 12:30, on Sunday. Right now I’m focused on tomorrow and at 7 o’clock, the polls open. I hope people will go out to vote and I hope they do as they always have done in South Carolina, change the context of the primary process.
HH: Governor Jeb Bush, always a pleasure, thanks for coming back and finishing the interview yesterday, I appreciate it very much.
JB: Thank you.
End of Interview