ROCK HILL, South Carolina — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, told Breitbart News Daily in an interview here that aired Friday morning on SiriusXM Patriot Channel 125 that he backs an Article V Constitutional Convention of the States to amend the U.S. Constitution for a variety of reasons. Those reasons, Bush laid out in the interview conducted aboard his campaign bus here after a town hall event on Thursday evening, include having a Balanced Budget Amendment, a Line-Item Veto Amendment, and a Term Limits Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The comment came up when Breitbart News Daily asked Bush about his nickname during his time as Florida governor—”Veto Corleone“—which he earned for conducting so many line-item vetoes of lawmakers’ pet projects, and how his experience in the Florida statehouse is preparing him to reduce the size and scope of the federal government should he be elected president.
“Veto Corleone was created because I created a structure on the budget that everybody understood, every line item had to go through the process—and if it didn’t go through the process, I’d veto it,” Bush said. “It was pretty simple. If it went through a process, and I felt like we weren’t overspending, I showed deference to the legislature. And 2,500 line items brought about a lot of discipline. In fact, it was interesting, they kind of—in some cases—people stopped getting mad about me vetoing because they would go home and say ‘hey it’s the governor’s fault. I put it in the budget but I can’t—the governor’s too much of a conservative.’ So bringing discipline to the process and in Washington, as you know, adding a line-item veto requires a Constitutional change. I think we ought to deal with. I think there should be a Constitutional Convention of the States for a Balanced Budget Amendment, Line-Item Veto and Term Limits.”
Until such a Convention of States happens, Bush noted, there’s a way the nation’s chief executive can cut back on spending and big government through a “rescission process.”
“In the interim, you can use a rescission process that would bring that same kind of discipline but not to the same extent as line-item veto power,” Bush said. “But it would be the equivalent of it. Getting budget discipline intact requires career civil service reform, entitlement reform, shifting power away from the federal government to the states. I’ve proposed creating a shift of transportation dollars, education dollars, Medicaid and eliminating the rules on top of these programs so that—creating certainty, making it a defined contribution in essence—it will save hundreds of billions of dollars if we do that. Higher growth, combined with that, will get us to a balanced budget.”
Bush’s campaign staff confirmed to Breitbart News after the interview that this is not the first time by any stretch that he has backed an Article V Convention of the States constitutional convention. But Bush’s backing for such a measure hasn’t received much if any coverage in the media—his chief rival Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gotten tons of attention on it after he backed one in late 2015—and the official Convention of States website says his position is unknown. Now, it couldn’t be clearer: Bush definitely backs a Convention of the States.
This could seriously complicate matters for Rubio, who was praised by the movement’s highest-profile supporter nationally syndicated radio host Mark Levin when he took the plunge to back such a constitutional convention, now that Bush is very publicly in favor of a Convention of States. Bush’s move came hours before Rubio infuriated Levin by failing to show up to speak at the Conservative Review conference in Greenville after previously committing he would. In addition to his radio program, Levin is the editor-in-chief of Conservative Review.
Rubio was scheduled to show up at the event on Thursday evening, but bailed on his prior commitment just moments before he was supposed to take the stage.
At a press conference, Levin tore into Rubio. “Maybe he had a meeting with the Ripon society or something. Or LULAC [League of United Latin American Citizens], or La Raza,” Levin said, adding that “it was pretty damn rude of Rubio, quite frankly. It is up to him to do what he wants to do, but … we had several thousand people to hear what he wanted to say.”
Now that Bush is backing one of Levin’s highest-priority causes, it could prompt several would-be Rubio backers to shift to Bush in the final moments of the South Carolina primary. While most in the pundit class predict Rubio will finish ahead of Bush here on Saturday, Bush beat Rubio in New Hampshire when pundits made the exact same predictions.