As he moves forward with a potential 2016 campaign, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is taking steps to distance himself from the two presidents in his family — his brother George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush.
Bush is scheduled to give a major foreign policy address Wednesday afternoon in Chicago. According to prepared excerpts of his speech provided to Business Insider by Bush’s political action committee, Right To Rise, Bush will declare that he is his “own man.”
“I also have been lucky to have a father and a brother who both have shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office. I recognise that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs’ — sometimes in contrast to theirs’,” Bush is expected to say. “I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man — and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.”
Along with separating himself from his family, Bush will use the speech to contrast his foreign policy approach with the administration of President Barack Obama. Based on the prepared remarks, Bush will describe Obama’s foreign policy as “inconsistent and indecisive.”
“We have lost the trust and the confidence of our friends,” Bush will say. “We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies.”
This speech won’t be the first time Bush has made an effort to distance himself from his family. At a press conference in Florida on Friday, Bush said he was interested in talking about the “future” rather than the “past” when he was asked about American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those conflicts began during his brother’s administration.
“If I’m in the process of considering the possibility of running, it’s not about re-litigating anything in the past,” Bush said. “It’s about trying to create a set of principles and ideas that will help us move forward.”
Bush has a clear reason for potentially wanting to distance himself from his brother’s record. George W. Bush left office in 2009 as one of the most unpopular presidents of all time.
Still, Bush hasn’t disavowed his family’s legacy. As recently as Feb. 4, Bush defended his brother as a “great president.”
Democrats are clearly eager to use Bush’s family ties against him. On Wednesday morning shortly before Bush’s speech, the Democratic National Committee Communications Director Mo Elleithee sent out a statement accusing Bush of trying to “recast his foreign policy.”
“No American has forgotten when Jeb’s brother, George W. Bush, led us into the Iraq War based on bad information, and pursued this entanglement even as it took important resources away from the hunt for al Qaeda in Afghanistan,” Elleithee said. “And now, more than a decade after the start of the war — even with the benefit of hindsight — Jeb Bush is one of the few people left who still stands by the decision to rush into Iraq.”
Elleithee’s statement noted a 2009 CNN interview where Bush was asked if his brother made a mistake by focusing on Iraq rather than Afghanistan.
“No, I don’t think so,” Bush said.
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