Appearing on Fox News’ The Kelly File on Monday night, 2016 prospective presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush explained that he would not try to undo President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“Passing meaningful reform of immigration and make it a part of it,” Bush answered when asked how he would undo Obama’s unilateral amnesty. “If you’ve been here for an extended period of time, you have no nexus to the country of your parents,” Bush explained. “What are we supposed to do? Marginalize these people forever?” Bush then added that his unwavering position on immigration demonstrated his toughness in the face of critics: “Do you want people to bend with the wind, to mirror people’s sentiment whoever is in front of you? Oh, yes, I used to be for that but now, I’m for this. Is that the way we want to elect presidents?”
He continued in this vein:
I think illegal immigration ought to be punished by coming out from the shadows, earning legal status over an extended period of time where you pay a fine, where you work, where you don’t receive government assistance, where you learn English, where you don’t — you know, you’re where deported if you commit a crime as is the law…There are no, very few other options that I can see. The option of self-deportation, or making things so harsh is not really — I don’t think that’s practical. And rounding people up door to door, isn’t practical either. We need to enforce the, enforce the laws of our country for sure, and enforce the border.
He then stated that Americans could be “persuaded” to agree with him.
Bush is now the second major Republican candidate to embrace Obama’s executive amnesty; fellow Floridian Marco Rubio embraced Obama’s executive amnesty while speaking in Spanish on Jorge Ramos’ television show on Univision. Both Rubio and Bush continue to hide behind the fig leaf of replacement legislation rather than simple repeal of Obama’s executive orders. This position contrasts sharply with that of Iowa and New Hampshire frontrunner Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), who has said that he would not merely stop illegal immigration but would severely limit legal immigration.
Bush also wavered on his support for Pamela Geller, the activist who organized a Garland, Texas event featuring cartoons of Islamic prophet Mohammed – an event that two ISIS-associated terrorists attempted to attack before being shot to death by police. “I think the First Amendment and freedom, freedom of expression trumps everything else,” Bush said. “It doesn’t mean it’s necessarily appropriate to do what they did…The guy who’s the real hero in this isn’t Mrs. Geller or anybody on the other side arguing now. They have every right to do that. It’s the police officer who, you know, unarmed with bulletproof vests, I guess, shot these two guys dead.”
Bush’s position, according to left-leaning The Daily Beast, put him in “a sweet spot on the issue.” It also made a mockery of his speech at Liberty University over the weekend in which he explained regarding religious liberty, “Federal authorities are demanding obedience, in complete disregard of religious conscience – and in a free society, the answer is no.” But apparently he will allow the dictates of political correctness to quash his enthusiasm for Geller.
Kelly asked Bush about his position on the Iraq war. More specifically, she asked whether he would have invaded Iraq given the information we now know about faulty intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program. Bush answered in the affirmative: “I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody. And so would almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.” But the question, of course, was not whether Bush would have invaded Iraq given the intelligence his brother received; it was whether he would still invade Iraq given errors in that intelligence. By failing to answer that question, he put himself in a precarious political situation.
Finally, Kelly asked Bush about his support for federal Common Core standards. “Common Core,” Bush said, “means a lot of different things to different people. So [critics] could be right based on what’s in front of them. I respect having a view, but the simple fact is that we need higher standards.” Oddly, Bush then called for state standards and said the federal government should “play no role” in those standards – which begs the question as to why the federal government should set the basic standards in the first place.
Bush’s poll numbers have been dropping substantially over the last few months. What was once a solid national lead has now shrunk to within the margin of error, and he is trailing heavily in Iowa and running even with Rubio, Walker, and Rand Paul in New Hampshire. His carefully calibrated positions on hot-button issues are obviously destroying his credibility with primary audiences. “The polls are totally irrelevant,” Bush said. “I’m not a candidate yet. So… everybody needs to take a chill pill on the polls until it gets closer.” That hot take is unlikely to convince potential donors, who are simultaneously being courted by several credible candidates as well as mainstream icon Karl Rove, who has long been at odds with his former boss’ brother.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the new book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.