With more moderate views than some of the vast Republican field of presidential candidates, Democrats are indicating they’re ready to paint Jeb Bush as an extremist on social issues.
They’ve jumped on this passage from his 1995 Profiles in Character book: “One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior,” Bush wrote. “There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out-of-wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful.”
Asked about that before reporters on Thursday, Bush said his views have “evolved” over the past 20 years but “to assume you can have a fatherless society and not have bad outcomes is the wrong approach.”
“We have a 40-percent plus out of wedlock birthrate and if you think about this from the perspective of children, it puts a huge — it’s a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we’re in today, and it hurts the prospects, it limits the possibilities of young people being able to live lives or purpose and meaning,” he said.
CNN noted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics showing out-of-wedlock births have declined 7 percent since the late 2000s, and more of those births were in homes where the mother and father lived together.
Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) stressed today that they’d not only hammer Bush over his book, but over a “scarlet letter law” in Florida during Bush’s tenure.
That 2001 law required women planning to put their babies up for adoption take out a newspaper notice listing sexual partners if they didn’t know the identity of the father.
Bush didn’t veto the law after it passed, but wanted the parental notification process revised. The law was found unconstitutional by state courts and original supporters of the law were eager to let it go by the time Bush repealed it in 2003. The replacement for the “scarlet letter” notification was a “father registry” where men could protect parental rights by adding their name to a database along with the name and address of the mother and date when they conceived.
Still, Wasserman Schultz told CNN this morning that Bush, in his book, “said that women who are single mothers should be publicly shamed.”
“Then in the scarlet letter law, which I did vote against, what he signed into law was a law that said that women should have to list their sexual partners in the newspaper, in a publication if they wanted to give their children up for adoption. I mean, that is how we make sure that fathers are held accountable?” she said. “This is the type of — when I say extremism, this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface when it comes to Jeb Bush.”
“Look, we’re talking about someone who is going to announce his candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America who believes that we should publicly shame women who have children, quote, ‘out of wedlock.’ And the way we should do that, if they want to give those children up for adoption is by making them publicly list their sexual partners. I mean, is this the mentality of someone who should be president of the United States?”
The chairwoman added “there are so many more extreme views that Jeb Bush has had.”
“He’s traded on his name throughout his career. He established offshore tax havens. You know, he sat on the board of a company that defrauded investors out of millions of dollars.” She indicated they’ll also be going after Bush on ending affirmative action.
On MSNBC, Wasserman Schultz called Bush “someone who now has been finally been called out for his belief that women who give birth to children out of wedlock should be publicly shamed.”
“And he allowed a bill in the — that passed by Florida legislature to become law that actually required women who wanted to give their children up for adoption, even if they had been raped or victims of incest, to publish their sexual encounters and their partners in a newspaper,” she added. “I think Jeb Bush is going to be, you know, just like his brother.”