Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said Wednesday that he would not be overly cautious about deploying American troops overseas solely to avoid earning the label of having launched a “third Bush war.”
“I would have a duty to protect the United States, and there are circumstances where a Commander in Chief, a President of the United States, has to make tough decisions, and history is full of examples of that,” Bush, during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, said when asked about his father and brother’s campaigns in Iraq. It was Hewitt, not Bush, who used the phrase “third Bush war.”
“I wouldn’t be conflicted by any legacy issues of my family. I actually am quite comfortable being George Bush’s son and George Bush’s brother,” Bush said. “I don’t think there’s anything that relates to what my dad did and my brother did that would compel me to think one way or the other”
Asked whether the looming fight between the Bush and Clinton clans sends the wrong message to the world about democracy, Bush said the coming campaign can’t be about dynasty.
“If the campaign’s about a dynasty, I’m not sure that that’s going to work,” he said. “If it’s about how you advance ideas that will help people rise up then it will be an inspiration for others, and that’s what we need to do.”
Bush criticized President Barack Obama for “disengaging” from the Middle East and for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq after Obama failed to secure a so-called status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government.
“Had we kept the 10,000 troop commitment that was there for the President to negotiate and to agree with, we probably wouldn’t have ISIS right now,” Bush said, referring to the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.
Bush, who has sought counsel from a broad array of foreign policy thinkers, including many of those involved in his brother and father’s Administrations, told Hewitt he had not fully studied up on the issue of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The U.S. fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines are due to be retired at the end of the next decade and their replacements are still on the drawing board. “To be honest, I can’t give you an informed answer to that,” Bush conceded. “But the fact that we’re not planning here over the long haul about the role of the U.S. Navy and the military in our national defense is troubling.”
Asked whether he would be willing to debate potential rival Senator Marco Rubio in Spanish, Bush said he’d jump at the chance. “I love being with my friend Marco,” Bush said of his fellow Floridian. “I don’t know whether I could keep up to him with his perfect Spanish but my close-enough Spanish, I think we would have a fun time doing that.”
Bush said that should he formally declare his candidacy, he would be sure to carry his message into Spanish-speaking communities, criticizing Mitt Romney’s delay in doing so during the 2012 campaign.