Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has reversed himself on immigration when it comes to a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. As the story below points out, he backed his brother's proposal that offered such a path and he had made statements supporting it.
But when you look at the clearest solo statement, Bush always left wiggle room. In an interveiw with Charlie Rose, Bush said he backed a pathway to citizenship OR residency. Conjunctions are important.
“You can’t ignore it, and so either a path to citizenship, which I would support — and that does put me probably out of the mainstream of most conservatives — or ... a path ... to residency of some kind," Bush said. A Newsday article last year said he backed a path to citizenship, but it had no quotes.
So this doesn't look so much like a flip flop as a flip. It's not so much a zig zag as a zig.
This morning, on Morning Joe, Bush seemed to slightly reverse his slight reversal. That seems to bring him back to where he was before. Here's what he said:
“If you can craft that in law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally, I'm for it. I don't have a problem with that. I don't know see you do it. But I'm not smart enough to figure out every aspect of a really complex law."
So to recap: Bush had said he was for either a path to citizenship OR residency. Then he said he favored a path to residency because he thought a citizenship-path would be an illegal-immigration magnet. Then he said he was for a path to citizenship if it wasn't an illegal immigration magnet. But he couldn't figure out how that could be.
It's a complex answer to a complex problem. It is nuanced. It is ripe for parsing. And it certainly looks like Bush is trying to please all sides. But then, politicians do that. But then, Bush has held himself up as the no-longer-politician who straight talks instead of giving nuance. Now he's seriously nuanced. He sounds wobbly. That's open season in today's media environment. And TPM didn't miss a beat.
Caveat: Bush said yesterday: "Read the book." I haven't yet (thanks for not sending an advanced copy to your hometown paper). So until we go through it, we're reacting to snippets and reactions to reactions of snippets.
Then there's the matter of Bush running for office in 2016. Previously, folks who knew him and Sen. Marco Rubio Rubio said Bush wasn't seriously considering a bid and Rubio was. But Bush's latest position has them reconsidering how Bush is positioning himself. And some Romney folks just aren't happy.