Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledged that running for president will require him to criticize his brother, former President George W. Bush, though it makes him uncomfortable.
“This is hard for me, to be honest with you,” Bush said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that was taped Saturday and aired Sunday. “I have to do the Heisman on my brother, that I love. This is not something that I’m comfortable doing.”
Bush’s remark -- conjoining the throat-clearing Heimlich maneuver with the college football Heisman Trophy -- made clear that he shares the family tendency toward malaprops that marked the public careers of his brother and father, former President George H.W. Bush. On a more substantive level, it underscored the unease he has already demonstrated on the campaign trail with how to handle his brother’s legacy.
In the interview, Bush criticized his brother for allowing federal spending to balloon during his tenure in the White House, a part of the Bush record that conservatives in the Republican Party have often denounced. But he suggested that other Republicans shared in the blame.
Because of President Bush’s focus on counterterrorism after 9/11, “I think he let the Republican Congress get a little out of control, in terms of the spending,” Jeb Bush said.
He said his brother deserved credit for “protecting the homeland” after the terror attacks.
Jeb Bush warned that the nation’s security will be at risk if the Senate fails today to reauthorize provisions of the Patriot Act, including the section that authorizes the bulk collection of phone records called “metadata.”
The collection of that information by the government is “not a violation of civil liberties,” Bush said. “There’s no evidence, not a shred of evidence, that the metadata program has violated anybody’s civil liberties.”
As the Senate meets today to consider the issue, Republicans are divided between those who want to continue the program as is and those who would reform it to provide greater safeguards for privacy.
Another potential presidential candidate, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), says he will try to block a vote that would renew the Patriot Act before it expires at midnight tonight.
Failure to renew the measure today would halt the collection activity for at least several days. President Obama and other defenders of the program, including many Republican leaders, say that would put the country at some additional risk.
Bush has not yet announced that he is running for president, although he has been actively campaigning and raising money for months. Avoiding an announcement for now has allowed him to sidestep campaign finance restrictions.
But with candidate debates set to start in August, Bush said he would make an official decision after a trip he is taking next week to Germany, Poland and Estonia.
“After that, I’ll have to make up my mind,” he said.
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