Republican presidential candidate former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said that while Senator John McCain (R-AZ) missed votes when he was running for president he “got a lot of stuff done while he was a United States Senator,” and that his comments about having other things to do was “taken really out of context” on Thursday’s “Hannity” on the Fox News Channel.
Jeb said, “I just think people, when they get elected, they ought to serve, they ought to do their jobs. And what we have in Washington is total gridlock. Look, Marco is a gifted politician, he is incredibly gifted, and he needs to be able to do his job. He’s going to be a great candidate for sure. But I think, he’s a United States senator, he ought to show up. Look, we’ve got, as you pointed out, we have huge national security issues in this country, and the United States Senate ought to be pushing President Obama towards the proper policies that right now are a complete disaster, based on his policies. There should be full engagement to protect our country from a grave threat, which is the weakest foreign policy since Jimmy Carter.”
When asked about whether he’s criticized other candidates who missed votes in the Senate, Jeb answered, “I’ve been critical of Hillary Clinton and Obama for sure. But John McCain had a proven record as a senator. He also ran for president, but he got a lot of stuff done while he was a United States senator, and still does. Marco, look, he had the worst attendance record prior to being a president — a candidate for president. He’s just made it clear that this is something that’s not as interesting as it once was. The bigger issue isn’t his attendance record, it’s, can he solve these problems, does he have a proven record to fix the big complex things that our country has? He’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong. And I voted for him. I supported him in every way, and I believe I have the executive experience, and the ideas, and the proven record, to fix things, and that’s — that was the point I was trying to make before I got cut off.”
Jeb also criticized the CNBC moderators, stating, “I thought they couldn’t — they didn’t control the debate. I got asked fewer questions. I was trying to interject myself into conversations I thought were important like healthcare and others. They asked me about fantasy football, really? I mean, we’ve got — we have workforce participation rates in this country at the lowest they’ve been since 1977, declining income for the middle class, and we’re talking about fantasy football. Wow.
When asked about his comments that there are other things he could be doing, Jeb said, “that was taken really out of context. What I said was, if you want gridlock in Washington, if you want to have — you know, have your fears and your angst be preyed upon, then I’m probably not your guy. Because I’m running a campaign to say, I can fix these things, because I did it as governor. I have 32 years of business experience and eight years as governor. I am working hard to be president of the United States. I think we’re on the verge of greatness again. But we’re going to fix how we tax, our entitlement challenges, our healthcare — Obamacare’s a complete disaster, the regulatory system on top of every aspect of business right now is stifling our ability to create jobs. I’m running for those — to change those things, and I’m not going to be part of the political class in Washington DC. I have the skills to disrupt the old order, and bring about a new culture.”
Jeb concluded that he spends most of his time talking about his record, and most of his attacks are leveled at Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but there has to be “comparing and contrasting” between GOP candidates.
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett