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Jeb Bush: political reporters are "crack addicts"

@MarcACaputo

Welcome to covering Jeb Bush, David Gregory.

On Sunday, the “Meet The Press” host learned that if you ask the former Florida governor a political-gossip question that attempts to pit him against a friend, he’ll parry and thrust.

Gregory: “Who’s the hottest Florida politician right now -- Is it you or [U.S. Sen.] Marco Rubio? Who are we more likely to see in the White House?”

Bush: “Man, you guys are crack addicts. You really are obsessed with all this politics.... Marco Rubio’s a great guy...”

Gregory: “You know, I’ve been called a lot of things…”

Bush: “Okay, heroin addict. Is that better?"


To call Bush’s smile icy would be too warm a description.

The exchange is vintage Bush. Ask any reporter who covered Bush on the campaign trail or in political office. Or ask any staffer who worked for him in either capacity. Bush challenges.

Gregory at least was concise, so he didn’t get the Bush trademark response to verbose questions: “Is that a question or a political statement?”

Bush has an approach-avoidance conflict with reporters: He seems to enjoy give-and-take, but he has a measure of disdain for many of us, especially political reporters, seen by Bush as purveyors of empty-calorie journalism. Bush has fashioned himself as a policy guy, someone who made major changes to education, proposed a mammoth Medicaid reform plan (in 2005 before it was sexy) and now is trying to tackle immigration. Yes, politics imbues policy.

But he’s getting a little weary of the media’s focus on his presidential ambitions and his friendship with Rubio. He’s probably just weary as well. He did all five news shows Sunday and spent the week on the road. Along the way, he has reversed and reversed himself on one immigration policy topic – a path to residency vs. a path to citizenship – that has left him a bit peevish.

Democrats have relished the slip. Talking Points Memo devoted a post to the flip-flopping timeline.

Bush wants to talk about more of the policy ideas in his book (which we wrote about here) instead of the politics surrounding him. But in some ways, he's having it both ways, parlaying his political brand into high-profile interviews about his book while discounting the importance of politics.

Late last week, when I asked if the controversy is a good way to sell books, Bush laughed.

“I don’t think,” he chuckled. “I’d volunteer for it not to have happened, if I had my way. But it’s not anything that I’m losing any sleep over. It wasn’t designed. If I made a mistake, I didn’t assume that everything would be viewed through a political lens. In Washington, it seems, everybody assumes there’s a political motivation to everything. And not understanding that, I accept responsibility for it. Is it a big deal? No. When you’re governor, you have to deal with real big deals. This is not one of those.”

Q: But refusing to knock down the are-you-running-for-president question is a good way to sell books, right?

Bush: “It’s an honest answer to a question that I’ve gotten every time I’m in the public. I’m asked this all the time. I’m asked this long before the book came out. Last year I gave 138 speeches. I’m not living in a cocoon here. I’m interacting with lots of people. I answer this question the same way all the time.”

Q: But last year, you said you weren’t running for office and, in doing so, you essentially implied you could be more straightforward with people.

Bush: “That was last year. This cycle comes. There’s a new set of question. Last year, it was why didn’t you run for 2012? That was the question then. Then, on the first Wednesday of November the question is: ‘Well why haven’t you decided? When are you going to announce you’re running in 2016?’ There’s this obsession about this in Washington World. Everything is viewed through that lens. I just assumed this book might be viewed from the intent of it. The intent was to shape policy going forward. I accept responsibility for that.”

Q: Why don’t you lance the boil and say you’d never run against Rubio. Would you?

Bush: “No. I can’t imagine that. I don’t know. He’s such a great guy….. Marco’s stepped up incredibly well. We’re close friends. This whole People Magazine-whatever-you-call it, it’s really kind of, you know, childish. It’s juvenile, untrue.”

Comments

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Can't take anymore

It must feel like a punch in the nose to to JEB! when people actually confront him for running away from his long term support of a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented. His trip down the high road was certainly a short one once he realized the Tea Bagggers control his party's state primary elections. His flip has flopped with the public.

harold

I suspect that his real complaint is that the media are hanging all over the internal troubles that afflict the Republican party.

It's making him a bit testy.

Influential members of the party will be expected to endorse candidates for the House and Senate races in 2014. Depending on the outcome of the elections, somebody will have backed the losers.

That's bad to have on your record if you run for Pres. because there will be tons of film clips of you being wrong, or taking the losing side.

So right now, everyone wants to look like they have everything under control, but what they're really doing is stalling to see if they can figure out which way to jump.

Election season for 2014 will start sometime around December 2013, so they don't have a lot of time left before they have to make committments in public.

BS

Wow, that harold guy sounds like a political genius. It must be his experience talking.

C Strickland

Jeb comes across as more moderate of his brother. But I would like to remind people that his brother was much more moderate while governor of Texas. W worked with democrats because he had to. Once he was President, that disappeared forever.

Jeb says he believe his brother's Presidency will be treated well by history. Well, if you can hide the fact that his administration went to great lengths to justify a completely unnecessary war. A war that got many young Americans killed, wounded and many permanently handicapped he will be viewed on his fiscal record...I'm not sure which is worse.

Lastly, spilling all that blood and treasure for the sole purpose of giving Iraq to Iran in the form of a proxy government.

Yea Jeb....whatever you say.

thebob.bob

Jeb Bush is on crack. America will never let a member of the Bush Crime Family into the White House again. He want's to change the climate in D.C.? His brother said the same then stole the election and spent his "political capitol" putting Scalia and Thomas on the SCOTUS. He was handed a budget surplus and then he started bogus wars to avenge his Dad and make the neo-Cons happy, bankrupting the country to do it. He de-regulated the securities Industry. He filled government with rightwing religious whackos from the Christianist madrassas, Liberty University and Patrick Henry College.

The Worst President ever. Never again!

Matt

He is the best qualified and most hopeful person this country has in 2016...if we make it out of the mess obama is creating, Jeb will be a great President, like his dad and especially like his brother

For thise morons who love to talk about what a right wing conservative W is/was, why has even your hero obama continued or strengthened so many of these policies?!? Bc even he knows they were the right decisions. If only obama would follow W's lead and cut taxes and not continue to ruin our economy

Bill Hackworth

Republicans will vote for Charlie Crist or Alex Sink over Rick Scott.

LouisCannon

Another Bush in the White House? Doubtful.

Kh

Another Bush in the White House? I hope not. I adore the Jebster, but enough is enough. Marco is a long way from being ready to steer our Ship of State. Let him come back to Florida and see what he can do to clean up this mess first...for which he is partly responsible. See the history of his tenure as Speaker of the Florida House.

Lifelong REPUBLICAN

I will not vote Republican this time.

A voter

I like Jeb, but after this flip flop on immigration he is sounding more like his bother George, and that is a scary thought. We have had enough Bushes in the White House.

tomj

Either or

mdoweht

JEB knows "crack addicts" since W had a little powder on his nose back in the day....

Anti-Tallahassee

I won't vote for Jeb Bush. I voted for Ross Perot against his daddy, and I will vote for some 3rd party candidate against the son. Jeb is just like the rest of his family. He will work for causes under the guise of principle while he makes himself richer. Exactly what he is doing right now in education. I think he is putting himself in the middle of this immigration reform to distract attention away from education. People are starting to realize that the testing mania is just another giant government funded corporate welfare scam.

PS

The more you reflect on Jeb's response to David Gregory, the more you realize he won't run for president.

wp.me/pShRp-naF

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