ORLANDO – Jeb Bush repeated his promise not to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, saying “under no circumstances” would he be on the ticket in November, even as he paused to give President Obama some praise in the area of education reform.
The former Florida governor, who is brother to one former president and the son of another, wouldn’t rule out a future run, but said in an interview on CBS News that his window is closing and he “probably” should have run this campaign cycle.
Bush did praise Obama, though, when CBS’s Charlie Rose repeated previous comments he had said praising Obama’s choice of education secretary, Arne Duncan. Bush, who is also a passionate education and school choice advocate, said he doesn’t “have to play the game of being 100,000 percent of being against President Obama…on the things that I think he’s done a good job on I’m not going just say no no.”
“I think Arne Duncan has done a good job and he clearly has the unmitigated support of the president,” Bush said. “We have a different approach as it relates to school choice and I think we need accelerate more provocative reforms, but having said that anytime an elected official in the world we are in today that appears so dysfunctional challenges a core constituency not of their opponent, but of their own political base I think we should pause and give them credit. This is the place where President Obama has done this.”
Despite repeated declarations that he is not interested in the job, Bush is often mentioned as a potential running mate for Romney. He said today he wouldn’t be a vice-presidential contender even if Romney were to insist the “country needs” the former Florida governor.
“I’m not going to do it and I’m not going to be asked and it’s not going to happen,” Bush told Charlie Rose on CBS News. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have a voice. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to enthusiastically support Mitt Romney. I intend to do that, I’m doing it. But I’m not going to be a candidate with him.”
Bush told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl last week that proof he couldn’t run with Romney is that he could accept tax hikes to go along with spending cuts to solve the nation’s deficit problems.
“This will prove I’m not running for anything,” Bush said. “If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we are going to have ten dollars of spending cuts for one dollar of revenue enhancement, put me in coach.”
Bush said he hopes a President Romney would come around to that opinion.
“I hope so because we have unsustainable deficits,” he said.
Speaking freely is a luxury for a non-candidate, according to Bush, although he did not rule out a future run for the White House.
“I’ve not made that decision,” Bush said. ”Although I think there is a window of opportunity in life for all sorts of reasons and this was probably my time. Although I don’t know, given kind of what I believe and how I believe it I’m not sure I would have been successful as a candidate either. These are different times than just six years ago when I last ran.”
He was also open about the direction of the Republican Party saying he “worr(ies) that it’s shortsighted” when it comes to opening the party to Hispanics.
“In terms of the tone of the debate it sends a signal, ‘we want your support but you really can’t join our team.’ That’s the short term implications of this and demographically Latino voters, Hispanic voters are going to be important in this election but going forward even more so politically I think it’s short sighted. I think there needs to be a lot more intense efforts to recognize the demographics of the country are changing and our messaging not our views, not our principals, but how we message our views need to change as well.”
Bush defined the two candidates saying Obama is “saying if we redistribute wealth more people will benefit receiving the chance of being secure in their economic livelihood,” while Romney wants ” to create a climate of opportunity where people succeed and fail with government playing a role and building capacity. Playing a role in providing security on a national level, playing a role for infrastructure but not trying to pick winners and losers all the time and that’s a big difference.”
“And I hope the campaign is about that and not about peripheral issues because this could be one of those defining elections,” Bush said. “This could be something that looks like 1980 where there was a clear choice and the country went in a different direction.”
Bush also said that some of Obama’s current foreign policy is “modeled after 43,” his brother George W. Bush as opposed to his father, the 41st president of the United States George H.W. Bush, which Obama has said he has modeled some of his foreign policy after.
“A little tip of the hat might be a nice thing. I think it would be helpful politically,” Bush said referring to Obama and his brother. “Just a small acknowledgement that the guy you replace isn’t the source of every problem and every excuse why you are not successful I think would be helpful.”