Jeb Bush said he would be a more fiscally conservative president than his brother as the Republican 2016 candidate appeared as a guest on Stephen Colbert’s inaugural episode of “The Late Show” Tuesday night.
There was a family theme to the interview as Colbert asked Bush to differentiate himself from his brother President George W. Bush to which the governor said he’s “younger” and “much better looking.”
But when pressed by Colbert on actual policy differences Bush critiqued his brother’s inability to bring fiscal restraint to Washington.
“I think my brother probably didn’t control the Republican Congress’ spending. I think he should have brought the hammer down on the Republicans when they were spending way too much because our brand is limited government,” he said.
“He didn’t veto things, he didn’t bring fiscal restraint,” added the former Florida governor who boasted of being called “Veto Corleone” in his home state.
Colbert acknowledged that brothers don’t always agree politically – introducing his own brother who was sitting in the audience – and who confirmed the differing partisan persuasions.
“I want your vote,” Bush said to Colbert’s brother who lives in the early voting state of South Carolina.
Bush also told the host that his mother was “just joking” when she told NBC News that the country had had enough Bush’s and Clinton’s in the White House before the 2016 race began to heat up.
The comedian further pressed the candidate (who he called the front-runner, with “one possible exception,” referring to Donald Trump) on whether Washington’s political culture can be changed to which Bush agreed, “We have to restore a degree of civility.”
“I don’t think Barack Obama has bad motives. I just think he’s wrong on a lot of issues,” Bush said. Colbert pointed out the New York City studio audience’s approval for that remark. “You were so close to getting them to clap,” he quipped.
Tuesday’s late-night appearance comes ahead of a busy Wednesday for the Bush campaign as they begin their first TV advertising in New Hampshire and the candidate is set to unveil a major tax overhaul proposal in a major economic policy address in North Carolina.
Bush’s campaign logo also got a laugh during the interview with Colbert exaggerating the exclamation mark used after the candidate’s first name.
“It connotes excitement,” Bush told Colbert of the logo he’s used since 1994.
During the interview, Bush stuck to highlighting his resume and his vision for the country rather than going after any of his rivals.
“This is the rare TV appearance where he doesn’t have to share the stage with 16 other people,” Colbert said of Bush at the end of the opening monologue in reference to the crowded Republican presidential field.
However, earlier in the show Colbert compared the electorate’s summer-long fascination with Trump to the inability to resist an Oreo cookie – alternating between cramming cookies into his mouth and playing video clips of the real estate mogul on the campaign trail.