Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is increasingly focusing his attention on attacking President Barack Obama as he explores a presidential bid.
In recent weeks, Bush’s criticism of Obama has grown more aggressive, shifting from exasperation with the administration’s foreign policy to blatant blame of the president’s personal failings to engage his political foes domestically.
It’s been 10 weeks since Bush launched his Right to Rise super PAC on Jan. 7 in preparation for a likely presidential bid.
While Bush travels the country to promote his effort, he has tried to keep his rhetoric positive, with a message that the GOP can create a “field of dreams” for people to climb up the economic ladder. However, as Bush the policy wonk has started to look more like Bush the candidate, he has taken a growing number of shots at Obama.
In his first public address on behalf of his PAC, at the Detroit Economic Club on Feb. 4, he expressed muted frustration at Obama’s lack of engagement in foreign policy.
“Our president always wants to frame it in a way that makes it appear like he’s engaged and those that don’t agree with him … I mean he believes that they’re war mongers,” he told the crowd about bemoaning the troop draw down in the Middle East that has left U.S. allies vulnerable.
The intensity of his criticism grew by the time he delivered remarks on Feb. 18 to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs when Bush revealed, “I have doubts whether this administration” believes American power is a force for good.
In less than a months time, Bush’s “doubts” gave way to a definitive claim.
He told an Iowa fundraiser on March 6, “This president is the first president, I believe, in the post World War II era that does not believe American power is a force for good in the world … not good for us or the world.”
“There’s a lot of things we need to restore. This president and by the way, his secretary of state, have let us down in this regard.”
This week, Bush has taken his vitriol against Obama from the foreign front to the domestic with criticism of what he has described as the president’s unwillingness to engage with Republicans.
Bush told reporters in Greenville, South Carolina on Tuesday, “The president has to lead. It’s the president’s responsibility to reweave the web of civility and to improve the discourse and this guy does not believe it’s his priority or his mission to do that.”
He went on to accuse Obama of having “invalidated” the mandate voters gave him when he was elected.
“Every chance he’s had to validate his mandate — which was not that I’m going to be the most hard left president in American history — it was there are no blue states, no red states only the United States and he won because of that and he has invalidated that every chance he’s had after every election,” Bush said. “He’s not turned to try to develop personal relationships with people that don’t completely agree with him and our democracy has been hurt by that. And yeah so I’m very critical of the president because I think he’s missed this opportunity.”
On Wednesday, Bush continued his attack on Obama at a GOP breakfast in Myrtle Beach, when he called for change in Washington, “not leadership that tries to divide us as President Obama does.”
“Not leadership that demonizes anybody that disagrees with him but leadership that says here are our objectives and anybody that wants to join in can,” Bush said.
Though Bush is travelling extensively and making inroads with party leaders and donors, he maintains that he is only mulling a presidential bid.
“I am seriously considering the possibility of this and in a few months time, I’m not sure exactly when, I’ll make up my mind,” Bush said at an event Wednesday. “If I do, I’ll come back here with a more pointed kind of advocacy asking for your support.”
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