New York, N.Y. — Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said on Thursday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — his 2016 competition should he officially join the race — must be held accountable for her actions, but he refused to directly criticize the Democrat following new allegations surrounding the Clinton family foundation.
Bush, who was holding a meet-and-greet with the Manhattan Republican Party on the Upper East Side, was asked about the upcoming book “Clinton Cash,” which was written by conservative author Peter Schweizer. The book alleges that Clinton used her time at the State Department to benefit her foundation.
“I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t seen any of the contents of the book so I really can’t comment,” Bush told reporters after the event. He quickly added that “she’s going to be held accountable like all of us … that’s part of the process.”
The former Florida governor, who has not officially declared his presidential candidacy, was also asked about the emerging Republican field and how, at a recent summit in New Hampshire, much of the talk among the declared and potential GOP candidates seemed to be surrounding Clinton and not about differentiating themselves from each other.
“I don’t go off on Hillary Clinton,” said Bush, who recently knocked Clinton for a “politically-motivated flip flop” on trade. He added that there will be “lots of time to get into a more partisan-type of argument.”
Besides the meet-and-greet, Bush is in the Big Apple to hold a fundraiser and meetings. He’ll also be at The Ramaz School, a Jewish day school, to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.
Like Bush, former Gov. Scott Walker, who is also considering a 2016 bid, was in New York City this past week and received kind words from the influential GOP billionaire David Koch. That fueled speculation that Koch and his brother Charles may back Walker. A Koch aide insisted to Politico, however, that the siblings are not yet committed to a candidate and that Bush, in the political blog’s words, will be given a “chance to audition” for the brothers’ support.
Laughing, Bush acknowledged to msnbc that the Kochs will play a very important role in the presidential race but, in contrast to the Politico’s report, he doesn’t see himself as “auditioning” for their backing.
“If I go beyond the consideration to be an active candidate, my hope is to garner as much support across the whole spectrum of the Republican party,” said Bush. He called the Koch brothers’ network an “important part of any coalition to win the primary, so I don’t view it as auditioning for sure. But my intention is, if I’m a candidate, I will reach out to every sector of the party.”
Attendees at the event at the Metropolitan Republican Club said the former governor certainly sounded as if he were running, but during his remarks, Bush insisted he is still in exploratory mode.
Manhattan Republicans’ Chairwoman Adele Malpass said Bush was received very well at the meet-and-greet.
“The enthusiasm was incredible … He’s being very strategic,” said Malpass, who has not yet committed to a candidate. “We have a primary coming up. Iowa has 28 delegates and we have 95. Do the math — we’re going to be important. He has a very big network here and you could see that today.”