Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush talks about his new fiscal plan in an exclusive interview with The American Spectator.
Spectator: Your fiscal reform plan received massive coverage over the weekend.
Bush: Here's the deal. It is, as Scott Walker would say, "big and bold," and as Marco Rubio might say, "transformational for the twenty-first century."
Spectator: Let me ask you about a comment made by one of CNN's in-house pundits, Ana Navarro, whom CNN identifies as "a friend of Marco Rubio but she supports Jeb Bush."
Bush: It's "Jeb." I am not just my father's son or my brother's brother. I am running as my own man. But I love my father, who is perfect. And I cherish my brother, who kept us safe. But, frankly, I should be talking more about my mother.
Spectator: Didn't she advise you not to run?
Bush: I never reveal conversations with the First Lady, or the former First Lady.
Spectator: Ana Navarro said on This Week with George Stephanopoulos that she is "happy " about your fiscal plan and you "emote when speaking." When you were on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Colbert said, "You were so close to getting them to clap." What happened?
Bush: I don't know, our consultants are still analyzing my appearance. Generally, though, I am proud to emote. I'm making progress connecting with the voters. Last week I spoke at LIBRE, an organization funded by the Kochs for Hispanic empowerment.
Spectator: You said to that group, "I saw an ad promoting Super Girl on TV when I was working out. She looked pretty hot."
Bush: Yes, but I said it in English. And I am happy married. They like family values.
Spectator: Are you trying to blunt another attack by Trump about your support of Mexican rapists?
Bush: I got a lot of really cool things that I can do other than sit around being miserable listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.
Spectator: Is the media unfair to you?
Bush: Here's the deal. I'm not the only awkward candidate. Why am I singled out?
Spectator: You've gone from first place in the poll steadily downward, to fifth place, in single digits.
Bush: I am the frontrunner emeritus. And my new fiscal plan shows leadership.
Spectator: How so?
Bush: It demonstrates I can make tough decisions. As I told Pat Robertson last week, no one on my senior team thought Donald Trump would be number one. God bless Donald. We're now moving senior staff off our campaign payroll and ending relationships with senior consultants.
Spectator: What does "senior" mean?
Bush: They were involved in Phil Gramm's 1996 campaign for president, which spent $30 million in current dollars and didn't net a single delegate, or they were retained at an inflated rate by at least one campaign for my father and at least one campaign for my brother. But I'm proving I'm my own man by now running a lean and mean operation. The slogan is, "The tortoise will win."
Spectator: What happens now?
Bush: My new fiscal program shows I have the power to adapt. With less overhead, I can spend less time raising money and more time campaigning in retail politics.
Spectator: But it seems the more you campaign, the more you go down.
Bush: I'm going to target Iowa, especially the Seventh Day Adventist vote.
Spectator: Can you give us any more specifics on your fiscal reforms?
Bush: Among Donald Trump's businesses, there have been four bankruptcies. I'm taking the honorable way out by cutting overhead by 45 percent and staying solvent. Even if I lose, it will be a fiscally responsible loss.
Spectator: What do you think of Donald Trump?
Bush: As Ana Navarro said about Trump, in the context of all the candidates, "They're not in the playground playing paddy cakes, they're competing to be leader of the free world." We don't want an Insultor-In-Chief.
Spectator: Trump said yesterday that you're doing so poorly, he probably won't be attacking you anymore.
Bush: Mr. Trump has a real credibility problem. I've been declining in the polls for a long time, and he still has continued to attack me. And even yesterday, after saying he would stop, he referred to my campaign as a "disaster" and claimed we paid $1.3 million to our fundraiser.
Spectator: Is that true?
Bush: Yes, he referred to our campaign as a disaster.
Spectator: Did you explore other options for your fiscal plan?
Bush: Of course. Remember, I was a successful conservative governor of Florida for two terms and balanced the budget. We considered that the more we increased our campaign's monthly shortfall, the more revenue the campaign would eventually raise.
Bush: The positive supply side effects would not happen until after the convention, and that would be too long. My father told me this is voodoo economics. But I made my own decision. I love him so much, but he doesn't tell me what to do.
Spectator: But you were in Texas with him and your brother yesterday to meet with your campaign's top donors.
Bush: No talk about the campaign, so we could make it a fun social occasion.
Spectator: No one mentioned the cutbacks?
Bush: No, the main topic was that Paul Ryan is picking David Hoppe, a longtime lobbyist to be his chief of staff. Some key donors were concerned that Paul's choice of a veteran K Street lobbyist would give Donald a new issue. He'll probably say, "I've hired David, and I know what he and K Street represent, and they can't buy me to let more Mexican rapists into the country as a source of cheap labor."
Spectator: What was your takeaway from the meeting?
Bush: No new contributions. And being with them, I began to think about how wealthy some of these donors are, and they're really part of the good old boy network. For crying out loud, some of them probably would want an ambassadorship from me, say to Israel. But I've already promised that to Jim Baker. I thought about having the campaign just go bankrupt and not pay the vendors in full. After all, Donald brags about stiffing greedy bankers in his four bankruptcies.
Spectator: CNN interviewed "high sources" in your campaign today who said you will be "tearing up the script" and "speaking your mind." That we will see "Jeb Bush unleashed." Haven't we already seen this?
Bush: Yes, for sure. My real problem is I don't have a script. That's why I will be even more unleashed as I spend more time in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Let's see what happens at the debate on Wednesday.
Spectator: Is it possible down the line that you may drop out?
Bush: Stuff happens.
A shorter version of this interview originally appeared in The American Spectator website.
Here are some of the reactions:
1) He should lose the glasses, the correction is so thick it makes him look nerdy and exceedingly myopic... the American people want a leader with vision... a little too Nixon 5 o'clock shadow...
2) He should stop quoting what other candidates say. Who cares, we already know what they say. Unless he is directly commenting on a policy of theirs, he should avoid speaking of them. He should act as though he is the only presidential candidate of any merit...
3) The emphasis on his being his own man, thinking his dad is perfect, and his brother kept us safe is not believable...
4) He should not use the phrase "the tortoise wins the race," that is an absurdly wrong campaign slogan, OMG, because in it he compares himself with a tortoise. The tortoise might have run and won an ancient allegorical race, but no one wants a tortoise in the presidency. Plus, now every time I look at him, I am going to see a tortoise.
5) He should not say, "I am not the only awkward candidate, why is everybody picking on me?" Holy f---, seriously. This is so un-presidential. He should shut up, as he is his own worst enemy. He is emotionally young in a transparent way. He is coming off as weak and sniveling.
6) A candidate should NEVER suggest that people vote for another unless the candidate has the vice-presidential position or the Secretary of State position deal already in mind and signed, sealed, delivered.
7) Title of the article is misleading. Jeb is not talking about his bold fiscal plan, he is talking about what an emotional cripple he is.
What's your reaction?