WASHINGTON — Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said he is thinking of running for president in 2016 and will make a decision sometime in the near future.
Bush also labeled President Obama’s immigration executive action “extra-constitutional.”
“I’m thinking about running for president and I’ll make up my mind in short order – not that far out into the future, I don’t know the exact timeline,” he said at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council event on Monday.
“Do I have the skills to do it in a way that tries to lift people’s spirits and not get sucked into the vortex? And that sounds easy, it’s easy say, it’s harder to do. Do I have those skills? I’ve really got to do a lot of soul-searching to really make that determination,” he added.
Bush also said running for public office is a “pretty ugly business” that he might not want his family to go through at this time.
“I think people kind of appreciate that, so I’m sorting that out,” he said.
In the discussion moderated by Gerald Seib, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau chief, Bush said the U.S. has been acting like France.
“The United States should not be in any category remotely close to a problem kind of country. We have everything that is necessary – abundant and natural resources, the most innovative country in the world, the most creative place in the world, labor laws that are unique in the developed world, a big place full of chances to expand, the history of productivity, all this stuff has just been cast aside temporarily and we’re moping around like we’re France, with all due respect,” Bush said.
“I don’t want to be disrespectful, they have a lot of interesting things and great things, but we’re not France for crying out loud – and the crisis of opportunity is we’re not seizing the moment,” he added.
Bush said the U.S. could be “American” again if it fixes a few “really big substantive things” like its energy policy, tax code and immigration system.
Seib said House Republicans have been “the roadblock” in the way of comprehensive immigration reform over the past year. Bush disagreed with his assessment.
“So you don’t think when the president of the United States uses powers he may or may not have but clearly knows it will be more than provocative to use executive order powers to try to deal with immigration, that’s not provocative and that’s not a deterrent?” Bush responded.
“But the problem arguably came in the preceding year, not now,” Seib said.
“OK, well, I would argue there’s enough blame to go on both sides,” Bush responded.
He added that Republicans missed opportunities to shift the focus of their arguments on immigration reform away from border security to creating an economically driven immigration system.
“There’s no trust anymore that the executive will enforce the law, so we’re stuck,” he said.
Bush said Obama’s executive action was “extra-constitutional” and not comparable to executive orders issued by past presidents.
“They’re a stretch way beyond what the executive authority by any other president has been used – and the idea that, well, Reagan did it and my dad did it, they did on a much smaller scale. They did it with the consent of Congress. There’s a lot of differences between what happened back then 30 years ago and what happened now,” he said.
Bush argued that Congress should provide “certainty” to illegal immigrants.
“What we need to do is get to some certainty for people, 11 million people that are here, 5 million of which he [Obama] dealt with, we need to find some certainty to get them some legal status and move to a system that is more economically driven,” Bush said. “We’re the only country in the world that has spouse, minor children, adult siblings and adult parents as the definition of family. Every country has spouse and minor children that I’m aware of. Please don’t Politifact me, whoever is following this.”
Bush suggested the U.S. emulate Canada’s immigration system.
“Canada’s sophisticated enough to know where their shortages of labor are. Wow, what a radical innovation to be able to know that,” Bush said, recommending that the U.S. narrow family petitioning.
Bush also criticized the American public education system as “unionized and politicized.”
“I’ve lost my patience on this, to be honest with you, because I don’t see the change necessary to get to the model that we could get to. If we started from scratch, we wouldn’t have this system. We wouldn’t have unionized, politicized, government-run monopolies as the means by which children learn. We would have something child-centered, customized for their needs,” he said.