August 14, 2015

Jeb Bush eats his way through Iowa State Fair


It must have been cheat day for Paleo dieter Jeb Bush, where he spent a full fours at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines on Friday doing what presidential candidates are supposed to do at state fairs: trying lots of fatty foods.

At one point, according to reporters there, his staff tried to usher him out but Bush insisted on staying a while longer.

Bush also spoke to fair goers, some of whom peppered him with questions about his Middle East policy and his brother's war in Iraq.

Here's a sampling of Bush's fair snacks:

Fried Snickers



Jeb Bush selectively recounts details of Iraq and ISIS

In a major foreign policy speech this week, Jeb Bush forcefully argued that the current problems in Iraq -- especially increasing violence and the rise of the Islamic State -- are due to President Barack Obama, supported by his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.

That argument forecasts Bush’s hopes of being the Republican nominee who takes on Clinton and the Democrats in November 2016.

But Bush’s look back at U.S. failures in Iraq doesn’t tell the whole story. A review by PolitiFact shows he leaves out some key turning points.

"Why was the success of the surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq, leaving not even the residual force that commanders and the joint chiefs knew was necessary?" Bush asked. "That premature withdrawal was the fatal error, creating the void that ISIS moved in to fill – and that Iran has exploited to the full as well. ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat."

That’s a very selective reading of the facts about Iraq. First of all, we know the timetable to leave was in place when Obama took office. We also know elements of ISIS existed long before the U.S. troop withdrawal, all the way back to when President George W. Bush launched the Iraq war. Finally, Clinton’s role isn’t nearly as clear-cut as Jeb Bush suggested.

Keep reading Joshua Gillin's story from PolitiFact.

Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton and a twitter battle about college affordability

What works better on Twitter? Snarky digs at your enemies, or serious public policy discussions?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- or at least their respective campaign staffs -- did both on Aug. 10, using graphics, hashtags and cheeky banter to debate a legitimate policy issue: the cost of higher education.

As part of promoting her college affordability plan, Clinton tweeted a graphic that said "$1.2 trillion, the amount 40 million Americans owe in student debt," accompanied by the text, "Cost won't be a barrier to an education. Debt won't hold you back." Her proposal offers federal money to states that work to rein in college costs.

Bush, running for the Republican nomination, responded with his own graphic that said, "100 percent, the increase in student debt under this Democratic White House. Hillary Clinton: mortgaging the future of college grads for four more years."

Keep reading the fact-checks by Lauren Carroll and Louis Jacobson from PolitiFact

Jeb Bush: U.S. embassy opening in Havana is 'birthday present' to Fidel Castro


On Thursday, Fidel Castro turned 89. On Friday, the U.S. will reopen its embassy in Havana. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, an honorary Cuban American, said raising the stars and stripes in Cuba amounts to a present to the Cuban revolutionary.

The other Miamian seeking the 2016 GOP nomination, Cuban-American Marco Rubio, delivered a speech in New York on Friday morning pledging to roll back President Obama's Cuba policy, which Rubio referred to as "concessions." "We're going to open up to Cuba, but Cuba's not going to open up to us," Rubio said later on Fox News.

Here's Bush's statement:

Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Havana is a birthday present for Fidel Castro – a symbol of the Obama Administration’s acquiescence to his ruthless legacy.  U.S. policy has changed, but Cuba has not.  It remains an unyielding dictatorship, a tragic example of the folly of communism, and an affront to the conscience of the free nations of the Western Hemisphere.

The accommodation of the Castro regime comes at the expense of the freedom and democracy that all Cubans deserve, but Secretary Kerry’s visit is especially insulting for Cuba’s dissidents. That courageous Cubans whose only crime is to speak out for freedom and democracy will be kept away from the official ceremony opening the U.S. Embassy is yet another concession to the Castros.

We need an American president who will work in solidarity with a free Cuban people, if I am elected President, I will reverse Obama’s strategy of accommodation and appeasement and commit to helping the Cuban people claim their freedom and determine their future, free from tyranny.  Standing up for fundamental human rights and democratic values should not be an afterthought to America’s Cuba policy, it should be its guiding principle.

August 13, 2015

AP: Jeb Bush on torture: 'I don't want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement'

From the Associated Press:

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Thursday declined to rule out resuming the use of torture under some circumstances by the U.S. government.

"I don't want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement," Bush told an audience of Iowa Republicans, when asked whether he would keep in place or repeal President Barack Obama's executive order banning so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the CIA.

"This is something that I'm actually struggling with because I'm running for president ... and when you are president your words matter," he said.

The former Florida governor said that in general, he believes torture is inappropriate, and that he was glad his brother, former President George W. Bush, largely ended the CIA's use of the techniques before he left office. The CIA used waterboarding, slapping, nudity, sleep deprivation, humiliation and other methods to coerce al-Qaida detainees — methods the military would be prohibited from using on prisoners of war.

A Senate report released last year cited CIA records in concluding that the techniques were more brutal than previously disclosed, that the CIA lied about them, and that they failed to produce unique, life-saving intelligence. The CIA and its defenders take issue with the report.

Jeb Bush said he believed that the techniques were effective in producing intelligence, but that "now we're in a different environment."

He suggested there may be occasions when brutal interrogations were called for to keep the country safe.

"That's why I'm not saying in every condition, under every possible scenario," Bush said.

Bush has been walking a careful path, seeking to disassociate himself from some of the unpopular aspects of his brother's legacy while praising him.

In discussing the Iraq war, for example, Bush, who previously acknowledged that the intelligence didn't support the decision to invade, on Thursday said he had learned from some of the mistakes made during the occupation, including what he said was a wrong decision to disband the Iraqi military. He said his brother also now believes that was a mistake.

Keep reading the AP's report here and read McClatchy's story about his comments earlier this week about Iraq and ISIS. 

Jeb Bush decries 'blind haste' of U.S. Iraq withdrawal -- a date agreed to by his brother

via @JonathanLanday @lesleyclark

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, in his Tuesday speech that was billed as a major foreign policy address, provided a distorted version of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq and an incorrect account of the origins of the Islamic State.

Bush vowed that if elected he would expand U.S. military intervention in the Middle East significantly. His version of events, however, seemed intended to absolve his brother, President George W. Bush, of blame in destabilizing the region while trying to pin the region’s current bloodshed on President Barack Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, the current Democratic presidential frontrunner.

The former Florida governor asserted that the Islamic State’s takeover of large swaths of Iraq in 2014 was a direct consequence of the “fatal error” of Obama’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the country in 2011 after the eight-year U.S. military occupation. He claimed the withdrawal squandered the “success, brilliant, heroic and costly,” of the 2007 U.S. troop surge. He said Clinton “stood by as the hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.”

Bush’s account of the withdrawal as a “case of blind haste” omitted the fact that it was his brother who’d set the withdrawal date of Dec. 31, 2011, in an agreement that he signed with the Iraqi government in 2008.

He also neglected to note that the Iraqi government strongly opposed the continued presence of U.S. forces.

More here.

20 fact-checks from the first GOP debate

The crowded Republican field has kept PolitiFact busy since the first GOP debate. So far, we’ve compiled 20 fact-checks of statements the candidates made on Aug. 6 in Cleveland including claims by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.

Here is the full list.

1. Marco Rubio: Says Hillary Clinton has "been in office and in government longer than anybody else running here tonight." Mostly False.

2. John Kasich: "I took the state of Ohio from an $8 billion hole … to a $2 billion surplus." Mostly True.

3. Donald Trump: Illegal immigration "wasn’t a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement." False.

4. Donald Trump: "The Mexican government ... they send the bad ones over."Pants on Fire!

5. Marco Rubio: "This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration. There are a million people a year who legally immigrate to the United States." Mostly True.

Turn to PolitiFact for our complete list. 

LA Times: Black Lives Matter protesters interrupt Jeb Bush rally in Nevada

From the Los Angeles Times:

A Jeb Bush town hall meeting Wednesday ended on a testy note, as Black Lives Matter protesters clashed with the presidential candidate's supporters after he faced a series of challenging questions.

Bush, responding to a woman's query about the disproportionate number of minorities killed by police and their treatment in the criminal justice system, said there was no question that racism still existed in the United States and that leaders needed to engage in communities that felt disenfranchised. He then turned to his education record as Florida's governor, saying that achievement scores among minority youths rose during his tenure.

“I have a record of empowering people in communities that” were told “they had no chance,” Bush said, ending the town hall. He did not deliver a closing statement, as he typically does, and quickly made his way to an exit, greeting supporters along the way.


Bush's campaign said the candidate met with Black Lives Matter advocates earlier in the day and discussed criminal justice reform and barriers to upward mobility.

 More here.

August 12, 2015

Jesse Ventura: Jeb Bush sent me Cuban cigars

Former Gov. Jesse Ventura says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had a box of forbidden Cuban cigars delivered to his Minnesota office to keep him from complaining that that the embargo against Cuba made the cigar aficionado feel “like a criminal.”

The claim -- which Ventura says dates to when the two were both in office -- came as Ventura spoke with former Donald Trump senior advisor Roger Stone on his Ora.TV "Off The Grid" show.

The cigars, however, weren’t Cuban, but Dominican, Bush’s campaign says.

As Stone talked about an upcoming book he is publishing on Bush, Ventura shared his Bush story, telling Stone he had asked then-President Clinton about why the U.S. continued to enforce its “ridiculous” embargo against Cuba.

“At the time, I was smoking Cuban cigars. I said, ‘I hate to feel like a criminal every time I go to smoke a Cuban cigar,’ “ Ventura said. He said Bush approached him and told him “keep it down, I’ll send you all the Cuban cigars you need.”

Read the rest of Lesley Clark's story here.

This post has been updated with information from the Bush campaign. 

Poll: Jeb Bush in second place in New Hampshire

via @learyreports

Donald Trump is fading in New Hampshire, with Jeb Bush holding second against a rising John Kasich and Carly Fiorina, according to a Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll.

Trump has 18 percent of the support of likely GOP primary voters but that's nearly half the support he once had. Bush has 13 percent and Kasich at 12 percent, reflecting his strong debate performance.

Ted Cruz is fourth at 10 percent, and Fiorina has climbed to 9 percent, according to the poll conducted Aug. 7-10. Rand Paulhas 6 percent and -- surprisingly -- Scott Walker has fallen to 4 percent, tied with Marco Rubio.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has eclipsed Hillary Clinton in the Granite State.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times