Jeb Bush: ‘Conservatism Temporarily Dead’; Pope Border Mass Fueled Trump

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., at a campaign event, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Brown's barn, in Rye, N.H. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

“I’m disappointed I didn’t break through,” Jeb Bush confessed during an interview with MSNBC Monday night. “This would have been an extraordinary time to serve as President. The country is desperately looking for leadership… I think it requires someone who is not always trying to win, but to solve problems.”

The former Florida governor reflected on his failed 2016 bid for the Oval Office, admitting disappointment, but also deflecting blame, saying “conservatism is temporarily dead,” and adding that “Donald Trump is barely a Republican – certainly not a conservative.”

When asked if he could have done something differently, Bush said he ultimately had to be himself, “If I had to be something different than I was, then I wouldn’t have run.”

He went on to criticize the media’s coverage of the billionaire businessman, “I’m not sure in the environment that we were in in 2016 – partially created by this larger than life character, partially created by, frankly, the media’s coverage of him that blocked out the sun effectively for anybody else – [if anything would have made a difference]. I spent most of my time doing press interviews commenting on what Donald Trump said.”

Asked about his final days on the campaign trail, Bush reflected on the South Carolina primary during which he was in a three-way tie behind Trump with Sens. Marco Rubio (FL) and Ted Cruz (TX). Recalling South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s endorsement then of Rubio, Bush said “it clearly hurt.”

In addition to Haley’s endorsement of Rubio, for whom Bush was once a mentor, Bush also went on to blame the Catholic Church, saying, “the Pope intervening in American politics didn’t help.”

“[The Pope] was talking about basically open borders at a time when the whole Trump phenomenon was to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. [The Pope] literally goes to the border for a massive mass,” Bush said. “I don’t think he should be intervening… I don’t think he understood he was intervening in our political affairs.”

When asked “how did we get here?” Bush responded: “This is the environment of reality TV” … “The Kardashians wouldn’t exist if we didn’t enjoy watching them, right?”

In closing, Bush spoke of how he’s been handling the loss, reassuring voters, “I’m not taking therapy, I’m not seeing anybody. I gave it my all, I gave it my heart. I worked my tail off and I’m not sure anything I could have done would have changed the outcome.”

In what appeared to be a small gesture of respect for Trump, however, Bush concluded by saying, “Kudos for Trump for winning the nomination. It was extraordinary. And you can’t take that away from him. He’s the presumptive nominee. And he earned it. Now he needs to run for president. There’s a difference, and we’ll see how that works.”