Former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush gestures as he speaks at the Hispanic Leadership Network's conference, Jan. 26, 2012.
Photo by Wilfredo Lee/AP

Jeb Bush says he isn’t a candidate ‘yet’

Jeb Bush thinks that running for President would be a constricting experience and that political discourse in the United States has become more sterile. Bush made the comments at a forum at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee on Tuesday.  Those comments came just two days after his son George P. Bush made headlines by saying his father Jeb is most likely considering a run.

When asked if he is going to run, Jeb Bush gave some candid answers about what kind of candidate he would like to be.  

“I’m not a candidate yet so I feel liberated. I love this country. I have a platform and I get to express views and people are interested in hearing them. I take that responsibility very seriously. I’m not training myself to limit myself. I find the political discourse in this country becoming increasingly sterile. It used to be a lot more open and dynamic.  I don’t have to worry about that. It’s a lot more liberating to express my views. Ultimately, if I was to be a candidate, I’d have to figure out how to be who I am without losing it because I couldn’t do it, I’d go nuts. “

Bush also spoke about the mentality he believes a good candidate should bring to a race and why a candidate who plays it safe by giving canned answers to hard questions is not his style.

“The issue is to do it with joy in your heart in a way that’s different. I honestly believe we are at the precipice of the greatest time in this country.  I believe in my core.  So if you’re going to share in that belief, you can’t get sucked into that vortex of narrowing everything you say into one liners that are safe. I’m not an expert on this.”

So when will Jeb make a decision about 2016? 

“At the end of the year when I can find some quiet time to think and to talk it over with my family and to go through this.  If it’s a ‘yes’, I guess you go into the ‘Bat Cave’ … I don’t know.  I’ve never done it before. You have to be organized to get to the starting line and I don’t know how long that takes.  And then hopefully you go out and do it. If I was to run, it’d be with joy in my heart and to express the joy of this country;  the need to fix a few things and describe the leadership that’s needed. You have to figure out a way to use the skills you’ve earned in life’s experiences to be able to forge consensus. And if I run - I have a blessed life. I have a great wife. I have three grandkids. I live where I love to live. I’m confident in my faith. I’m not, like freaking out about this decision to be honest with you.”

Not being constrained or limited in his public discourse, as he believes would be the case in a Presidential campaign, has already put him on the opposite side of the immigration issue from the conservative side of his party and he did not back down from that position at Vanderbilt.

We have a set of shared beliefs. It’s not about where we came from, but where we’re going and immigration is part of that strategy. Embracing heritage together is not a radical idea, but apparently that’s politically crazy. To be inward looking in a world full of opportunity defies common sense. I may be stubborn enough or passionate about this issue that I’ll stick with it. My wife is a Mexican-American. She loves her country of birth. I love the fact that my daughter-in-law is from Canada and her parents are from Iraq. And I love the fact that my granddaughter is a Texan-Mexican-Canadian-Iraqi-American. “

Bush has had a lot of experience watching other Presidents, including his brother and father, and had some thoughts about where he believes President Obama has struggled and why.

“The President’s problems stem from the fact that there is no guiding set of principles that guides his foreign policy. Our enemies say Americans are in retreat. The President is spending his second term with the fact that he didn’t have a set of guiding principles in his first term. It’s been an unmitigated disaster in that regard and he’s paying the price. He created the red line even though he didn’t have a plan.”

Jeb Bush’s potential run for President was pushed back into the news this week when his sons gave interviews to the New York Times and to ABC News implying that a run is a real possibility. Jeb Jr. told the New York Times that donors and supporters are “getting fired up about it” and that the Bush family is “geared up either way.” Bush’s other son, George P. Bush, told ABC News that it’s “more than likely” his father will run.

Bush was Florida’s 43rd governor and was invited to speak at the Vanderbilt Chancellor’s lecture series, joining Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos and visiting professor and msnbc contributor Jon Meacham.

Foreign Policy and Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush says he isn't a candidate 'yet'