Jeb Bush still hasn’t confirmed whether or not he plans to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that if he does, the path he sees as leading to victory doesn’t lead through the fever swamps of the ultra-right.
In appearances in Washington this week, the former governor of Florida admonished his party to step back from a position of constant confrontation with President Obama and instead try to take constructive steps to demonstrate leadership.
Speaking at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council’s annual meeting, Bush, 61, said the GOP needs to stop taking show votes on issues like repealing the Affordable Care Act and President Obama’s executive action on immigration – and start governing.
“We don’t have to make a point any more as Republicans,” he told The Journal’s Washington Bureau Chief Gerald Seib. “We have to actually show that we can, in an adult-like way, we can govern, lead.”
Bush delivered a similar message to a closed meeting of Congressional Republicans the day before, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
President Obama has repeatedly responded to Republican objections to his move to grant temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants by urging Congress to “pass a bill.”
That, in effect, is what Bush told GOP leaders they need to do. According to Post reporters Robert Costa and Ed O’Keefe, he advised them to avoid a showdown with the president during the lame duck session of Congress, and to return in January and start passing GOP-backed bills to reform the immigration system.
He added that he believes improving immigration policies are “probably the easiest way to get sustained economic growth.”
Bush’s belief that the party should avoid big battles with Obama over his action on immigration and his signature health care law put Bush strongly at odds with the hard right elements of the GOP. Even House Speaker John Boehner, regularly pilloried by the far right for being insufficiently conservative, said Tuesday there must be a Republican response to the president’s executive order. He called it “a serious breach of our Constitution, it’s a serious threat to our system of government.”
Other positions, particularly his fervent support of the controversial “Common Core” standard for elementary and secondary school education, also put Bush in conflict with the Tea Party and other elements of the conservative base.
Bush said he has still not decided whether or not to run, but said he will make a decision “in short order.”
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