Although he’s been hammered by the punditry class for getting schooled by Marco Rubio for daring to bring up his poor voting record in the U.S. Senate at last week’s GOP presidential debate, Jeb Bush said today that he has no regrets about doing so.
“I got to be governor of a state and accomplish big things,” Bush told Meet The Press’s Chuck Todd in an interview taped on Saturday in Miami and aired on Sunday morning. “And in this era of gridlock, it’s really hard to break through, and I think he’s given up. And I think that’s the wrong thing to do. This is about public service, about solving problems. If you look at the three people on the stage from the United States Senate, all three of them have a combined two bills that became law that they’ve sponsored. If you look at Hillary Clinton, in ten years, three bills she sponsored that became law. This is the gridlock that I’m running to try to break up. I can change the culture in Washington.”
Bush insisted that he hadn’t seen the 112-page memo from his presidential campaign detailing why Rubio is a “risky bet” for the Republican Party before it leaked.
“I didn’t see it,” he said. “Well, I read about it when it was leaked for sure. I didn’t know about the PowerPoint.”
Bush told Todd that while he knows he needs to get better at debates after being considered to done poorly at last Wednesday night’s affair in Boulder, he hasn’t watched a tape of it, and doesn’t intend to.
Bush answered a question by CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla about whether there should be an investigation of daily fantasy sports products DraftKings and FanDuel, but Chris Christie seemed to be impugning both men afterwards in expressing revulsion at such a question asked at a debate. Bush seemed to concede that he should have answered it differently.
“My focus in the debate, I will change the whole conversation,” he told Todd. “So if someone asks me about Fantasy Football next time, which was kind of bizarre if you think about it, I’ll talk about the people I’ve met that are really worried that they have declining income.”
Bush will appear in Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville on Monday. He said that his speech in Tampa will be about how Republicans need to be hopeful and optimistic and have an aspirational message, which doesn’t seem like something he hasn’t been saying on the stump for sometime.
Bush said he maintain a belief he’s had for decades – that there should be no litmus tests for Supreme Court Justice appointees, which is usually said in reference to the abortion issue. Interestingly, he said he’s having an internal debate about his feelings on the death penalty.
“I’m conflicted,” he confessed to Todd.”I am. It was the law of the land when I was governor, and I faithfully dealt with it. To be honest with you, it is not a deterrent anymore because it’s seldom used. It clogs up the courts, it costs a ton of money. And–
Are you one of those that look at the fiscal part of it and say, “You know what? Maybe it makes more fiscal sense to not do it”?
Here’s the one thing, and it’s hard for me, as a human being, to sign the death warrant, to be honest with you. I’m informed by my faith in many things, and this is one of them. So I have to admit that I’m conflicted about this. But here’s the deal, when you meet people, this happens in rare cases where the death penalty’s given out and you meet family members that have lost a loved one and it’s still in their heart. It’s etched in their soul. And this is the way that they get closure, I get more comfortable with it, to be honest with you.
But we should reform it. If it’s to be used as a deterrent, it has to be reformed. It can’t take 25 years. That does no one any good. Neither the victims nor the state is solving this problem with that kind of tangled judicial process.
So you’re still in favor of it, but?
Yeah, but I’m just saying, look, this is life, Chuck. It’s not all either/or. Sometimes you can see both sides. And I believe life is truly a gift from God, and innocent life particularly should be protected at all cost, for sure. But people that commit these crimes, there should be– justice can’t be denied. And it shouldn’t be delayed. And maybe there’s a better way to do this where victims feel as though they’re being served, because that should be front and center, the first obligation of the state.