Jeb Bush Says 'No Question' He's More Experienced Than Marco Rubio

The candidate talks immigration and 2016 competition in exclusive ABC interview

ByABC News
June 17, 2015, 7:16 PM
ABC's David Muir speaks with Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, June 17, 2015, before a town hall meeting in Pella, Iowa.
ABC's David Muir speaks with Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, June 17, 2015, before a town hall meeting in Pella, Iowa.
Scott Morgan/ABC News

— -- Although Jeb Bush called Marco Rubio a "good friend" and "real talent," the former Florida governor also said he's definitely more prepared than Rubio to become president of the United States.

"There's no question of that at all," Bush told ABC's David Muir when asked if he's more experienced than Rubio. "And that's not disparaging my good friend who I think is a real talent."

Bush sat for an exclusive interview, his first since entering the 2016 presidential race on Monday, with Muir as he campaigned in Iowa on Wednesday.

"I think I'm more experienced and qualified than anybody running. I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think that I have the skills to fix these things and to lead our country," Bush said.

The two often exchange public compliments, and Rubio is described as a onetime Bush protégé. But as the two vie as leading contenders in the 2016 race — and in the race for votes in delegate-rich Florida, from which they both hail — some public comments have been interpreted as subtle swipes. Rubio is running on a campaign theme of new leadership and moving on from the past, while Bush has made comments about executive experience — both of which could be construed the candidates taking aim at one another.

Bush also talked immigration, reiterating his support for a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants who came to the country illegally. When Bush announced his candidacy for president in Miami on Monday, he was interrupted by young immigration activists.

"The kids that were protesting, frankly, I think they oughtta have a path to citizenship," Bush told ABC's David Muir in their exclusive sit-down interview in Iowa on Wednesday.

Bush has drawn criticism from immigration activists for opposing President Obama's executive action to defer deportations of young illegal immigrants and their parents. He also stands apart from many in his party, in that he speaks often about comprehensive immigration reform that would involve legal status for some of the millions already in the U.S. who came here illegally.

Parents of DREAMers, named after the stalled DREAM Act legislation that would bestow the path Bush supports, would not enjoy the same benefit under Bush's favored policy. "They should get a path to earn legal status over an extended period of time by paying a fine, learning English, working, not receiving federal government assistance, and I think a great majority of the people here that are living in the shadows would take that deal in a heartbeat," Bush told ABC.