Jeb Bush To GOP: You Can’t Just Be Against President Obama

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has been mentioned as a national candidate several times but consistently demurred, is telling his fellow Republicans that they’ve got to be for something other than being against the President:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush offered advice to 2012 Republican hopefuls: bashing President Barack Obama is not enough to win on the campaign trail.

“I hope that the Republican candidates, when they are offering their solutions, it’s good to be critical of the president, I think the president means well, but his policies have failed,” Bush said on Fox News. “And to point that out, nothing wrong with that. That is politics. But just to stop there and say, ‘Well, I’m going to win because I am against what is going on’ is not enough.”

When asked by Fox News Host Neil Cavuto if some in his party overdo their criticism of Obama, Bush said, “I do. I think, when you start ascribing bad motives to the guy, I think that is wrong. It turns off a bunch of people that want solutions.”

Bush also suggested candidates not shy away from their conservative views.

“I would humbly suggest to you that being a conservative is not necessarily a bad thing. But if you are a conservative, you have to persuade. You have to defend a position. You can’t just be against the president,” Bush said.

“And that’s the big test.”

Bush is right, of course, and one need look no further than the 2008 campaign for proof of that. Many in the GOP believed that all they needed to to was spend the 2 1/2 months between Labor Day and Election Day bashing Barack Obama and saying names like Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers over and over again, although one got the impression toward the end of the campaign that McCain himself was having second thoughts about the negative tone his campaign had taken, as this exchange at an October 2008 campaign rally demonstrates aptly:

Governor Palin, of course, had no problem at all with attacking Obama in this manner, and she continued throw red meat to the crowds right up until Election Day. And we know how that turned out. If the GOP thinks that they are going to succeed in 2012 where they failed in 2008, by demonizing Barack Obama, they will be in for a rude awakening I think.

On a final note, Bush will probably never run for national office, but I’m once again reminded of something that occurred to me somewhere around 2002. We elected the wrong Bush brother.



FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Further proof we elected the wrong Bush in 2000

    Whoops, that’s what I get for commenting before reading the entire post.

  2. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    There was a RIGHT Bush brother?

  3. john personna says:

    The biggest problem we have is jobs, but our greatest focus is on spending.

    The GOP can’t really be “for” much, because of that hidden dynamic. They must know, or the economically literate among them must know, that they can’t connect too many dots.

    This paper investigates the short-term effects of fiscal consolidation on economic activity in OECD economies. We examine the historical record, including Budget Speeches and IMFdocuments, to identify changes in fiscal policy motivated by a desire to reduce the budget deficit and not by responding to prospective economic conditions. Using this new dataset, our estimates suggest fiscal consolidation has contractionary effects on private domestic demand and GDP. By contrast, estimates based on conventional measures of the fiscal policy stance used in the literature support the expansionary fiscal contractions hypothesis but appear to be biased toward overstating expansionary effects.

  4. PJ says:

    @Yet another disillusioned pawn:

    There was a RIGHT Bush brother?

    There clearly was a BETTER Bush brother.

  5. john personna says:

    It’s a pity we all had to suffer for the family rebellion.

  6. Herb says:

    Jeb’s right, but no Republican should take his advice. Once the Republicans pivot from personality to policy, they’re going to have to concede that many of these failing policies are policies they a) once supported or b) still support to this day.

  7. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Running against Obama and against Obamacare in 2010 worked out fairly well for Republicans.

    That said, Jeb does make a good point: you can’t simply gainsay everything your opponent has said and done. Ergo if you add tort reform, regulatory reform and tax reform into the mix — in language Zombieland can understand — you’ve just written the GOP platform for 2012.

  8. The natal chart of Barack Obama gives us a portrait of quite an amazing man. From a purely astrological perspective, he has the most balanced elemental energies I’ve ever seen. The elements of earth, water, air, and fire are all equally distributed across his chart.
    Obama stickers are available at $4.99.

    barack obama sticker

  9. john personna says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:

    Running against Obama and against Obamacare in 2010 worked out fairly well for Republicans.

    I was amused to see a headline that Ms. Bachmann has promised to fix the economy, generate “millions of high-paying jobs.” Guess how?

    You know this one …

    “repeal Obamacare.”