tv Jeb Bush and George P. Bush Discuss Leadership CSPAN March 5, 2017 6:32pm-7:52pm EST
they would wait until judge gorsuch or someone else's seeded . in its you -- in essence it does nothing but hold that court in the lower region of the country. cases that arel pointing toward 4-4. in this case rather than last term you wait for the ninth justice and rehear the case. >> what do you give the odds of the judge been confirmed to the supreme court? >> i think i would have started this moment thinking he gets through. the liberal side does have a message. also there is real hunger in the country among democrats and liberals who oppose the president. >> i would say 95%, i can't
imagine he gets on, but going back to the first. >> thank you for being our guest. >> tonight on q1 day, wall street journal investigative reporter talks about his .ront-page story about the career and downfall of a former lobbyist for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. rumors about this guys lifestyle for a wild. see and about and a year later i started looking -- what makes him want to
former president of the united and first lady. please be seated. on behalf of president and mrs. our, i want to thank all of guests for being with us tonight. a special welcome to those of you watching us on live streaming. we are delighted our audiences keep growing for these events with people watching us all over the world. we welcome your feedback, those of you out there. let us hear from you. due to the great demand for seats tonight, it won't surprise you this is a hot ticket. we also have a crowd gathered in the over oh auditorium right next door.
and governor bush just went in and said hello to them. he reminded them he will be back. we will take our speakers over and say hello to the folks in the auditorium next door after the program. we think our members and supporters that are with us tonight. we know the programs would not be possible without your help. we are so fortunate to host these programs. and there would not be a library without your help. we are especially grateful to our great friend flo creighton represented by her nephew nick -- rick bostwick, who is with us here. flo is a longtime friend of ours, a longtime friend of the bush's. tonight's program is the 2017 lecture of the william waldo cameron forum on public affairs. this was created by a gift from flo started in 1994, and an endowment she created. the forum was named in honor of
her father william waldo cameron who attended the agricultural mechanical college of texas. as texas a&m was once known. what a night it is tonight. we couldn't be more pleased to kickoff the 20th anniversary year with such a special event featuring former governor jeb bush and texas land commissioner george p. bush. marc welsh, the dean of the george bush school of government and public service will provide a proper introduction to our speakers. and in mark and i had two of the three entities here at the bush center. the third being the presidential library and museum which is headed by warren finch, who is with us tonight. warren? nice to have you with us. [applause] david: a quick word about
logistics tonight before we get started. following the remarks and the interview portion of our program, our speakers will be pleased to respond to your questions. we ask that you write questions on cards when you check in this evening. if you don't have one and would like to ask a question, ask one of the roving bush school ambassadors that will be walking the hour and circulating to collect your questions. without further ado, please welcome the distinguished dean of the bush school, mark welch. [applause] mark: thank you, david. i'm afraid the distinguished guy couldn't make it. [laughter] mark: you got me. thank you so much for joining us tonight. this is a great event for us. it is an unbelievably great way to start 2017 for the bush
center. david, to you and the foundation, thank you for putting this together. you are one of one of the strengths of the bush school is the mix of faculty, scholars, and practitioners that we have. it is one of the things that makes the school special and particularly effective. we are lucky to have one of our professors here to share lessons learned from a lifetime of public service. professor bush has been with us for about a week now. and he is in the middle of teaching his course on gubernatorial leadership to 62 of our students that came back early from their holiday break. we were hoping to get 20. 65 ended up signing up. there are 62 proud students that are enjoying the heck out of it. they are interested and outstanding. serving as state secretary, commerce, the nonprofit
foundation, consulting and investment businesses, writing three books, serving as state governor for eight years is pretty good preparation for being a faculty member. [laughter] mark: let me tell you a couple specific things the students are learning. these are in their words with eye conversations within this afternoon. the first thing is that you can be a really great person and a great public servant. the second thing is that you can be honest. state your views clearly, and still be respectful. [applause] mark: i will clap for that. in the third thing is that love of family, pride in your state and nation, believe in the basic decency and goodness of the citizens you serve, will all make you a more successful public servant. [applause] mark: i can't imagine three better lessons for students at
this school who are preparing to serve their fellow citizens to learn. one of the great things about working at this cool is that all of us have learned these same lessons from watching president bush and mrs. bush over the years. thank you for that. thank you for the example you set. [applause] mark: because this college, and i believe this family, at its core, is a celebration of education, public service, and a family itself. we are especially lucky tonight that those in the family and public service categories, we get two for the price of one. professor bush brought his own facilitator, being a little cautious about this forum. then we will run the q&a session. our facilitator has dedicated his life to public service. a former public school teacher, a combat veteran in the naval reserve.
he ran his own investment and consulting companies. he has chaired capital campaigns -- big brothers, big sisters, dallas-fort worth celebration of reading. in november of 2014, he was elected as a texas land commissioner and served in that very critical role since january of 2015. and i suspect he has made his dad proud at every turn. his wife mandy and his sons jack and prescott serve right beside him. they also join us this evening. [applause] mark: please join me in welcoming jeb bush and his son, commissioner george p. bush. [applause] jeb: thank you.
thank you, mark, very much for that exaggerated introduction. the fact that it's in front of my parents makes it ok. david jones, thank you for your leadership. i hope you're excited as everybody is that you are running the show here at the foundation. i want to thank my mom and dad for making it possible for me to be here. you know what i mean. [laughter] jeb: and i'm here because i wanted to, in a small way, monitor -- i will get emotional about this, but -- i want to honor the greatest man alive. so -- [applause] jeb: i'm finished with that, so --
[laughter] jeb: glad i got that out of the way. i want to point to the professors, the real professors that actually know how to be up -- be a professor. we had a little bit of a crisis that we thought we would be 15 to 20 students. and that is relatively manageable for a rookie like me to teach a class. when 62 showed up, i made it clear i wasn't going to grade any tests. i would just have the fun part interact with the students. as far as i'm concerned, they are all brilliant and all get a's. the professors have a duty to do their job. standing up so we can recognize for your great work because without you, this would not exist. thank you so much. [applause] jeb: and great schools don't exist unless you have
extraordinary students. one of the things i always tell people when they brag about the schools they are in, i always remind them that the reason why schools are great are the students that are there. they are reaching their full potential. sometimes people around them aren't. everybody can raise their level to the level of the student. students in my class, i want to recognize you as well. thank you for letting me learn from you as well. [applause] jeb: so i tried to think about how i would set up these lectures. the first thing you do is try to steal other people's ideas. it's a lot simpler when you can find other people that have done it, learn from them, a lemonade -- kind of eliminate some of the harder work. there are not many courses on the greatest job in public life. being a governor is so extraordinary.
you get a chance to set your on agenda, you can make your own mistakes. you can move the needle. you can act on your heart. you are not in a bubble. the president can do great things, of course, but it is hard to stay connected to the people they are serving. whereas governors that do it effectively, they are connected with them all the time. i had to make this up as i went along. i realized what i wanted to talk about is that this is effectively a 21st century leadership job. i see ryan here, the ceo of a great business. he will appreciate this. all of the risks associated with private leadership today looks similar to what a governor had to go through over the last generation. you have stakeholders now, all sorts of interest groups that you have to deal with. it is not a simple thing. it is like playing three-dimensional chess. public leadership in the defense department, or in a public job like teeing governor in the state of florida, it's complex.
i did not realize that. they don't give you a playbook. you say you will do a few things, you probably hit the other guy that you run against a little bit. a little rough and tumble. then you show up, and things happen. lots of things happen. i would call the seven days i'm here for 5.5 hours a day with these great didn't, a course on leadership through trial and error. and trust me, we've had a lot of trials and we've had a lot of errors. i was governor 1999 through 2007. we had 9/11. we want to tax directly, but imagine being the governor of a state that has more trouble than any state in the united states. 80 million people. people decided not to fly anymore. half of our visitors or more were on planes and literally,
plane service stopped. we had an anthrax attack. i had no clue what anthrax was. we had eight hurricanes and four tropical storms in 18 months. billions of dollars in losses. 1.2 million homes were damaged or destroyed entirely. we achieve the desired result but it created tremendous crisis for sure. a constant battles of education reform because i believe every child can learn and the system needs to be better organized be sure that we do. just an interesting story in politics, when i ran for reelection, the teachers union
didn't like what i was doing, they mortgaged their building to try to support the candidate they ended up running against in the general election. they had to sell their building to pay off that mortgage. the simple fact is if you are china move the needle and do big things, you can be popular or expend political capital to do what you think is right. in the state of florida not everybody thought what i was doing was right. the biggest compliment you could get is i don't believe in what you believe but i'd know your heart was in the right place. whatever it was you didn't have to find agreement, you had to achieve respect to be able to move the ball forward. few leadership skills i would like to talk about today. to make one thing pretty clear. this complex form of public leadership is more important
today than when i was governor. the world is moving at warp speed. it's accelerating. it's incredible if you travel to northern california, which i try to do to keep my mind from being stuck in a paradigm. the move will we -- the world we are moving towards his moving far faster than we can imagine. the combination of automation in ways nobody could have envisioned a decade ago. the explosion of artificial intelligence in ways that defy the basic science fiction -- it is incredible what is going on. the combination of that and the rapid advance of technology is creating so much destruction. it's not a surprise that we have a disruptive clinical system today as people feel the angst of all this change. public leaders need to manage that change, to fix the things that don't work. so people have the capacity to achieve and earn success. today, if a lot harder than it was in 1999.
the 21st century take-12 education system and job training needs to be radically changed to make sure that the disruption doesn't create people that are functionally obsolete. a baby brought into the world at a public hospital in texas today. unless their life is altered, they may never get a job. that is the world we are moving to. we will be challenged in ways that defy our imagination. it could be a time of incredible abundance where people can live lives of purpose and meaning. or it could be a time of great despair and divisions were the has and have-nots are becoming so apparent that people lose track and lose confidence in the basic system of the best country on the face of the earth. public leaders will be required to lead through this. not cutting ribbons, smiling,
trying to be all things to all people. but actually making the significant changes that are nurses area. -- that are necessary. our dramatic demographic trends. we ignore. we have a $50 trillion contingent liability. of the entitlement programs in our country. $50 trillion. our economy is $20 trillion. if you added the unfunded by -- like thes of medicaid, obamacare, medicare and the unfolded funded portions of social security, it totals, and i'm being conservative, $50 trillion. in the political system, that is the third rail. you can't talk about it and you can't touch it. each year that we ignore this makes it harder to preserve and protect these programs for those on them now. and the social contract being torn asunder. public leadership is so essential to convince people first that it's important to make these changes. you know what my plan is 10 years from now? you will be 10 years older. and so is everybody else in this room.
[applause] jeb: and in that kind of environment, with the birth rate that will break even right now. fertility rates are dropping, the aging of the population is in existence. we have a calamity in our midst. public leaders need to step up. those two combinations. and finally, the network world in which we live. we see the incredible advantages of the network world. people can customize how they live and work. we empower ourselves to make decisions. you might see me -- i'm in uber driver now. [laughter] jeb: you can live a life customized to your needs. you can live with your elder shut-in mom and provide her -- for her. by having the chance towork in a different wathan ever was imaginable a decade ago. to work in a different way than was imaginable a decade ago.
the simple fact is, the network benefits that create opportunities for all of us in the great country also creates huge threats. the threats of terror, anarchist, nationstates that have the chance to invade our privacy, challenge our liberty, create huge challenges to our economic system. we are not prepared in the 21st century the deal with cyber security issues the way that we should. all of this will require public leadership that is dramatic the different than it was just 10 to 15 years ago. him what are the principles i learned? the first is, when running for office and when you are a public leader and you want to do things, you need to tell people what you're going to do and then show the resolve and do it. it is an interesting loop. him say what you're going to do, and do what you say you are going to do. i know that's a crazy idea in american politics today.
but if you look at the successful governors in the last 50 years, they did it. they said what they were going to do, then did what they said they were going to do. and him him and that is novelty. it is so common in state capitals. our students are seeing video after video of people with different ideologies saying the same thing. i ran on this, i fought for what i believed and i accomplished x, y, and z. think about the laws of physics. voids are filled. if your agenda is not the highest priority, you will -- you are just reacting to everybody else's agenda. it is impossible to lead show unless you have a clear agenda. the only way to have an agenda validated is to have the courage of your convictions in public life, at least, when you are running for office. in 1998, i said i wanted to create the first date wide voucher program in the country.
i wanted to grade schools. i wanted to and social promotion in third grade. the policy that we pass children from third to fourth, knowing if they can't read, they will not be able to master the material, the gap to grow. children never become qualified to get a job or to community college or get a four-year degree. the net result is i was attacked. the whole campaign was my idea. i went to visit 150 schools and i ended up in the campaign going to see 250 schools. to take the horns off my head. because these were radical ideas and even today, they are considered dramatic and provocative. him will the campaign was about him those ideas. i was fortunate to win. i declared a mandate. when you run and you have the in an courage to say what you want to do, whether it is a
mandate or not, claim it. then act on it. that is what we did in florida. the class will hear from one of my colleagues, patricia la beck about how that happened. the nation academic education him progress test. it is the only test where you can measure how students do state-by-state. you can't teach to it. it's a test that has been validated by all the psychometricians. 29 out of 31. anyone that follows these nerdy rankings, when you're 29 out of 31, you say think god for the other two states. we were 50th out of 50. we couldn't even say thank god for whatever state it was. every state in the country was saying thank god for florida. 10 years later, with a huge fight started with the campaign is that this is what i want to do, i worked with a whole team.
we were six out of 50. in 10 years time. [applause] jeb: frankly, washington needs to have that. we need to have people run to say what they are going to do and then we need to hold them to account. it's how it used to work with great regularity. it will make it possible for people to live lives of purpose and meaning. the second thing i would learn is that leaders need to create big, hairy, audacious goals. jim collins had a book. he talked about bhags. i hated acronyms in government,
but that was what i embraced. you fill the space because you have a very audacious goal. people that did not like what we were doing were always playing defense. whether it is football or life, if you play offense, you make mistakes along the way. but you are advancing forward. eventually, you win. i believe it is essential to fix the things in our country. we need to be about aspirational goals. there were lots of them. but let me tell you one that may become relevant again. it was the base realignment and closure process. brac process. when i got elected, i called people across the country to get advice. i learned this from my dad.
the advice was to set up a base command meeting. invite them to the governor's mansion twice year and listen to what they have to say. we have the ability to talk to commanders. they were flattered that i was interested in what they have to say. and they had phenomenal ideas. we created a preparation for and we appreciated what the men and women in uniform did for our country in florida and we wanted to pay them back. we made it important. it was the highest priority. state in thehe political realm loved it.
onecrats, republicans -- no . hasve never met anyone who said they wanted to show disrespect to the troops. the simple fact was we made significant progress. we had a big audacious goal to make florida the most military friendly state in the country. we eliminated title loans. these offices were parked in front of the gates of military bases in our state. some were doing good work but preying onraying -- men and women with problems. where it'sa program , iflies of people overseas they had a problem we gave them a grant. they gave families these of mind to know the state was supporting
their loved ones. we provided free tuition for reservists and national guard for college education. we allowed the children of military families to get to the front of the line of our school choice programs. on a recommendation, he was a four-star general and he was always the first with the recommendations because of hierarchy, his recommendation is we started buying land around bases for recruitment. we were the first state to do that. finally, he said the last thing you need to do is to give hunting and fishing licenses to
all of the enlisted men and women in the state. we did it. [laughter] i went up to washington to see the secretary, we were going to go to afghanistan for easter to see the troops. rumsfeld holds out this color-coded chart of the 50 states. wasn't know where florida before, but we were in the top three in the country in terms of military friendliness. you can move the needle if it is your agenda. the simple fact is that people are not willing to risk political capital anymore. i find it remarkable. what are you doing if you have the greatest job in the world and you don't extend the capital to do the bigger things? it doesn't make any sense. the fear of getting your head cut off, the fear of getting attacked on the internet, the
fear of anything right now is holding people back. i hope you want public leaders that have the courage of their convictions and are willing to cause,e and advance the because we need them. that experience when i was governor is attached in my soul. everything else is important, but being big and aspirational spirit begin to lift when you advanced bigger causes. the third thing i learned from my mother, this is a book you could write. not" asking the "why hy.stion in set of the w requires a little bit of disrespect for the status quo, i learned a lot of that for my mother. [laughter]
not to tear is things down just for the sake of it, but being a little rambunctious. asking why not. if you ask why, the bureaucracy will give you all kinds of reasons why it should exist. but if you ask why not, you are playing offense instead of defense. why can't we do it a better way? i was all about the why not question. it really one of the attributes i have gotten better on, deep frustration and impatience. i also learned that from my mother. the why not questions are important. another story. i'm governor of the state, the first week. hill, and i up the ol,k up at the state capit
and there is not a florida flat on top of the building -- flag on top of the building. there is not a state flag. w'seminded me of george inauguration. i went to austin to celebrate the inauguration. there were no american flax. -- flag. [laughter] there were thousands of texas flax. that -- flags. [laughter] i know you are proud of your texas and identity -- texas identity. people can be texans if they embrace that identity. it creates a common purpose that is powerful to solve problems and give people the spirit of things.
people in florida where they are from, sadly they say they are from pennsylvania or wherever. .o, you are from tampa so i thought i have the power to put the florida flat on top of the capitol. i told the chief of staff and said, get someone to put a flag of their beard they can back and said, sorry, we cannot do that. there is not enough space. are you kidding me? we formed a committee. [laughter] they said, we thought about this, we have a budget amendment of over half $1 million to redesign the flagpole. i said, i just got elected as a conservative, the first thing i'm going to do is have a budget
amendment to spend half $1 million? no. figure it out. after gilling and screaming and throwing things at the wall over what i felt was simple, the government runs at a different pace, some guy sent me an email and said he was in the meeting and did not want to speak up, but the solution was smaller flex. -- flags. [laughter] so now there is a florida flag on top of the capital in tallahassee. there are a lot of things that are broken and people to want to fight the fight. they want to get along. even if they know, for example, a third of our children, college and career ready is not acceptable. a third of our children.
we spend more per student than -- thantry in the world almost any country in the world. i said almost any country in the fact -- got political politifacted. luxembourg and belgium actually spend more per student. sorry, i made a mistake. we spend a lot. a third of our children are career or college ready by the time they finish. that is unacceptable. acting theht to be why not question, why can't we get to a better place? why can't we customize the experience so students learn in their own way? why can we turn the system on its head by saying time should be the variable and learning the
constant rather than the other way around? why can't we reward great teachers when they do extraordinary work and are literally getting your to have -- getting a year and a half worth of knowledge when others get half the year. many of the things we caps on in society are not working. the third leadership principle is to stop asking why, because people always have an excuse to defend the status quo, and ask why not. if you thought about what that whether it would be k12 or higher education, we have doubled the rate of student loans, and we are 12 in the world. fortune and yet 60% of full-time equivalent students graduate with a four year degree in six years. a lot ofm, but at
university says the case. that is acceptable. the cost and burden of debt on students surveyed cannot even start their -- on students so they cannot even start their lives. it has to be changed. there are many better ways to do these things, but public leaders, leaders in universities, coverage and -- governors and the people in washington need to start asking the question. the fourth thing is the need to munich eight, communicate, communicate. never stop communicating. it is so easy to move on to the next event. people watch this, all of this stuff with peripheral vision. goes on inwatch what the white house as much as we think. they don't follow every detail.
they don't follow what goes on in a state capitols. if you have a great idea and you are starting to show progress, you have to communicate that. if you make a mistake, you have to be honest and say you have adjusted the policies and communicate that. it has to be constant communication. it is so compelling today how difficult it is to do that compared to what it was when i was governor. , i have not hundred thousand people following me on twitter. if you watch anything i tweet is -- 10-1 is "you are a jerk," and sophisticated conversation. [laughter] mr. bush: they are not reading it, they don't care. they want to bring me down a
notch or two. the world we're in today with so many different means of acquiring knowledge, somebody different ways of garnering information, the ability to customize news to basically validate your curb beliefs -- core beliefs and make you less tolerant to others makes the need to communicate even more important. the net result of ending affirmative action is that we had more african-americans and hispanics attending our universities than before. it was successful. we had three digit increase in the minority dinning to state government by eliminating quotas and setting aside preferential pricing. it was controversial to say the least. we were successful, but in the midst of it, we thought we had the day.ay -- won
the simple fact is, i should have kept communicating. it created the largest protest in florida's history. it opened old wounds and created real problems for the incredible, diverse staff serving with me in the office of the governor. was -- it was simply because i stopped communicating, stop showing my heart and the results. the results were fantastic but we moved on. the lesson i learned is that in a public leadership position, you never stop munich kidding. -- you never stop communicating. you can move the needle on things, you can change the direction of a state for economic development purposes, for business climate, for education, higher education, but you have to stick with it. the easy stuff you can move on after a week. the big stuff, it is always
playing offense. it is never letting go. it is constantly sticking with it. if you don't do that, atrophy sets in. i learned that leadership is almost like physics. voids are filled. if you don't fill them with substantive policy, those boys are filled with other things and atrophy sets in and policies begin to die. the final thing i would say is, as i thought about this course, i thought about the kinds of styles of leadership i think are more effective. i tried as hard as i could, imperfect, i tried to be a servant leader. i modeled after the greatest man alive. if you think about it, people in public life, governors and certainly presidents, but governors. they are always governor this, governor that.
people go to the state capital to get things. and says your rear end nice things and they want you to think you are really important. people all around you tell you how important you are. the day you leave, by the way, it is all gone. [laughter] it is like nobody cares anymore, but that is good. while you are serving in a leadership role, you should have a servant's heart and -- a servant's heart. there have been great servant leaders throughout our history, but i think my dad is at the top of the list you read [applause]
-- top of the list. [applause] he treats everybody with respect, irrespective of their standing in life. he led with toughness and strength, but it was tempered with compassion. he always made it about the cause, the objective, the mission as he would have called it. he was a selfless, rather than making it about him. thankfully, his wife of 72 years -- four days [applause] if he ever thought it was about him, he had barbara bush to make sure that was not the case. [laughter] with the great challenges we face and opportunities to lead the world, we need the sort of servant leadership of george h.w. bush.
thank you very much. [applause] >> i think they want to on the site. i wanted to thank everybody for joining us this evening to talk about the future of our great country and what an amazing place to do it right here on the campus of a&m. as your texas land commissioner, i want to remind you today is the first day of the 85th legislative session. a perfect day to get out of the capital. [laughter] two longhornse on the stage. [applause] i renounced might longhorns status in honor of my dad again. i don't know about you george, but i am a little smarter than you in that regard. >> in all seriousness, it is
great to join the dean and david , and our grandparents and parents for welcoming us. to put us back on schedule, i will limit my questions were about 10 minutes and then we will open the floor to your wishes. i want to start with what i think is your largest compliment as florida governor. eight hurricanes in four years. if our experienced 1992g hurricane andrew in helped in creating your response policy. i would say that during with the hurricanes of my children prepared me. [laughter] over $100 billion of
insured losses. we lost our insurance market. the residential insurance market was there because of a quasi- government entity where wasyone's else insurance assessed to keep it alive. but it was a real challenge. i am proud of the team. we got better with each hurricane. alan levine is here. he was the head of the agency for health care administration and he had to monitor the hospitals and nursing homes. you don't think necessarily that hurricanes and hospitals are important, but if you don't have power, people by. -- people die. think about it. if you can't get gas into destinations after storms, people cannot go back to work. the entire estate was impacted.
there was not a single place where there was not a declaration. preparingcovering and for storms one after the other. it was extraordinary. i was so proud of the people i worked with. we learned. andrew was a good learning experience. sitting in that hall, we were with a guy, we thought we could move further west and it would not be a big deal. i don't know why we thought this. we work for miles off the coast in the sky lit eight miles off the coast. the winds don't stop between mile for and mile eight. this may be interesting for you. when hurricanee andrew was coming and you said, are you sure you want to not go to the emergency operations center? i said, the son and family of
the president cannot get special treatment. -- protectionn from the secret service. they said you have to go to the emergency operations center and i said no. it was unfair for everyone else in the community. so we moved to a friend's house. it was scary for sure and devastating. it was something that, you know, hurricanes you get amnesia for the quick if you forget you get them. i never forgot andrew for sure. it did give me a good chance to tell people that this was serious business. i had the advantage also, i know this is politically incorrect, in fact, it might be when i was here the last time i got in trouble for talking about this. i was bilingual, still am. [laughter]
mr. bush: i hadn't lost that skill thankfully. my wife of 42 years would appreciate that. i would give the hurricane updates in both spanish and english. people really, there was a real feeling of goodwill, not just for people that spoke spanish, but people that spoke english saying we're all in this together and here is a governor who is all in, sleeves up, ready to help. in a crisis, any leader has to be all in. you can't dial it in. you have to be all in. i learned that in a lot of ways but andrew was one of the great influences for sure. >> what's the toughest decision that a governor has to make in light of the responsibilities that you had as constitutional head of florida government, is it execution? is it, for example, the incident siavoseal the -- terry incident? watch a woman after all of the judicial
stuff had finished, to watch for an extended period of time, a woman be starved to death where i didn't feel it was appropriate was deeply, deeply emotional and just it was devastating to me. the death penalty in general was, you know, because that's a day-to-day duty in some ways, it's a responsibility that most governors have, it is really hard. because, look, i was brought up as -- i went to sunday school, went to church. my faith is strengthened as i became an adult. it informs a lot of my thinking in public life. i don't think you put your views in a lock box and say, well, privately i'm whatever, pro life or privately i'm this, but publicly, of course, i'm not. how do you do that? i don't know how you detach one
from the other. having a set of beliefs comes from something and in my case, my faith is really important to me. so as part of that faith to be judge and jury, if you will, to be the person that signs the death warrant and is on the phone with the warden say let the execution go forward was really hard. it was my duty. i put a hand on the bile and swore to uphold the laws of the state, that certainly was one of the laws, people, the family members, the victims of these tragedies had far worse than i ever did for sure, but it was really hard to do for sure. george: knowing that you are sometimes your own toughest critic, whether you be in public service or private service, how are you going to define success over the course of the next few days with your students, will it be measured by future participation in public service?
jeb: i think they're all great. i'll let them be the judge of me. frankly, i don't have to be the judge of them. the professors are here to grade them. this is kind of a vacation for me. i'm having a blast. it's a walk down memory lane. i get to be with colleagues that served with me. we have done videos with i think 15 governors and we're piping that in. governor o'malley is coming to the class and governor barber came to the first day, one of my chiefs of staff is here who is probably the best state budget director in the country. she worked for schwarzenegger, rauner, pataki. she should write a book. alan levine. bill simon was the president of walmart. all of these people worked in my administration. the alumni have come to help out, too. the students are getting, they're not getting kind of an academic thing, they can get that from the great professors. they're getting real world
experience and hopefully an honest appraisal where we explain the mistakes, too, because there were more than a few. george: with that, we'll turn the floor -- jeb: before we do this, this is the land commissioner and this is a crowd of 500 texans, don't you want to learn a little bit about the priorities of the texas land commissioner? [applause] jeb: never let a crowd like this go by, george. [laughter] jeb: george -- [laughter] jeb: give us your two top priorities for your service as land commissioner and i hope one of them is the alamo. george: funny, you should ask. those are my two priorities, alamo and coastal suppression. we're working really hard at the general land office to preserve our rich history as texans. that starts with the cradle of texas liberty, the alamo, reimagining the experience
there, the most visited site in our great state. for those of you who haven't had a chance to visit in the last few years, we encourage you to come out and check out the designs. we have hung up a new website where you can learn more about the redevelopment that will do a much better job of preserving our state's rich heritage, secondly -- jeb: the phil collins part was really cool. george: who would have thought i would befriend a british icon like phil collins, he is a floridian, he came over to texas and the last legislative session we honored him as an honor texan. largestiven us the collection of alamo related artifacts to texas. there is a caveat. we have five years to construct a museum and visitors center to how's the collection. we have to do it within five years. the pressure is on for the land office to get to work.
jeb: he is not just a pop icon, he is pretty smart to get the public private partnership up to build it or you won't get the artifacts. i just wanted to make that pitch. [laughter] george: it will be on the ballot in a little over a year. we'll turn the floor over to your questions. i believe mr. jones will be coming forward with some of the questions. jeb: you want to talk about coastal -- george: we're working with the new trump team on coastal projects, one of three texans is in a coastal zone within our great state. it's part of my job to explain to all texans that it's important that we protect our vital industry in the houston ship channel, and with the widening of the panama canal,
maritime trade will be part of the life blood othe texas economy. we cap -- we have got to do a better job for preparing for the next natural disaster. a lot of lessons from florida, we'll be working hard on that. jeb: thank you for sharing. [applause] jeb: i hope you didn't mind him having an announcement. >> thank you governor and commissioner. i feel guilty interrupting this great dialogue. there are some questions that our audience would like us to ask. some are directed to you, governor, some to the commissioner. this is sort of a jump ball. it may be a good one to start out with, i think. what is it that your parents did or said that made you want to become a public servant and a better person than you would have been on your own? george: i was going to ask you
that question, actually. didn't have enough time. jeb: i first got the political bug being around campaigns. it didn't become an actual idea to run for office and recently we asked what's the largest honor of so many honors that he has received and outside of the bush school, being the first living president to have that named after you, it's a unique honor. after that, i knew that i needed to do more than just serve myself and that's what drew me to it. i think if dad said in state politics in austin, things are functional. we actually get things done. that's what attracts me to public service and serving others. jeb: also my mom and dad made,
it's their modeling, it's not their talking, it's their acting. it's how if you want to be a good husband, watch george and barbara bush communicate without saying a single word at a dinner table. [laughter] b: they can communicate like they're having a huge conversation. my dad never struck me. i was perfect as a child, so he never did. [laughter] he would say i'm disappointed in you and it would put me in a three-week funk where i was in the fetal position in a closet somewhere. it was trying to be better in his eyes and also modeling my life as best i could to his. i actually did this, this is kind of i'm a goal driven person and i was 25 or already married,
out of school, living in venzla -- living in venezuela and had all of these goals. the main goal was to be like dad. i try to be like him, that was a goal, i'm very aspirational, i really do reach, but that was too high of a goal. it really helped me. i didn't have to get therapy in my entire adult life. i'm going to be half the man that george h.w. bush is. if i can do that, i would have lived a life of purpose and meaning. it's whatever that is. >> thank you, thank you. so several questions, this won't surprise you, get us into politics. current situation, we'll start with this one. how can we heal the political divisions in our country today? jeb: humility, humility. one of the attributes of leadership that i think is important is to figure out ways
for everybody to win. so i read a lot and ronald reagan was an extraordinarily successful president. he changed the world, but he didn't do it by doing victory dances on top of people. it wasn't like my way or the highway, i'm going to crush you. he lifted people up. he had friendships with people that didn't agree with a single thing that he believed. he never made it personal. he found common ground wherever possible. he had a relationship with tip o'neil that without that relationship, without that humility between two people that were proud conservatives and liberals separately, social security wouldn't have been saved for a generation of time. that requires a little bit of space, it requires, it's not all about you.
you got to have the humility to be able to believe what you believe and stick to your guns, but also recognize that other people may have a different view and they're not bad. they're not weak. they're not this. they're not that. they just have a different view. we got to get back to that, man, because if it's all about someone winning and someone losing, pushing someone down to make yourself look better, nothing will happen. you can win elections that way, apparently. [laughter] jeb: i'm not talking about the one you're thinking of. i mean, across the country, you can see elections being waged that way, not the one you're thinking of. it's a common thing. it's not unique to this year's presidential race, pushing people down to make yourself look better or demonizing the other person. ultimately, you're winning to serve and serving means you're striving to fix things. there is a broad consensus in america that things need to be fixed. i would go back to the lessons of leadership where great things
happen. if you read the book on johnson and the last volume, in six weeks' time, he got the kennedy tax cut passed. he got the most, the largest , most significant civil rights bill passed and the part that people don't realize until you read the book was he got for the first time since world war ii a year to year decline in nominal budgets because it was a setup to be able to get the civil rights bill done. he did this in six weeks, but he was a flawed person, i'm sure, like we all are. i don't embrace his ideology for sure, but there was something there that gave him some special skill to lead in a very difficult time with great variances between people that were very conservative and very liberal and he forged that consensus. it can happen again, and it has to.
>> so related question, events of the past few years have created huge separation within the republican party, huge divide. what in your opinion needs to be done to pull the republican party back into a unified unit, if it ever was one? jeb: all yours, george. [laughter] george: again, i go back to austin and our legislature with the laws and worked from the laws that they passed. we only need one to two years statewide. i think that changes the passage with the same party. [indiscernible] there are going to be differences, but as ronald
families, the national government should focus on protecting us, going back to that kind of tradition of solving problems from the bottom up would be part of the answer. then allowing a new generation of leaders to come forth, people like some on the stage here. [laughter] [applause] >> for both of you, is the electoral college appropriate for the 21st century? george: [inaudible]
jeb: just i would like to see liberals come to texas and talk about why the oil and gas industries are evil rather than a huge economic driver. i think conservatives need to go to san francisco and defend their policies with people that think we're like from mars. i go to san francisco regularly to talk. they think, there is such a gap between -- i met people and i mention this, i taught at harvard briefly this fall. a met a young woman, very smart, she is at harvard and she said i never met a conservative before. [laughter] that just took me back.
no way! yeah way! we have to figure out what the common ground is. so whether it's electoral college, i'm not sure that's the right thing to do, but maybe having lines drawn where you have competitive races again. in 1982, there were, see if i can get this right, i think there were 150 districts where, correct me, i may have the numbers wrong, i believe it's 150 districts where between the most liberal republican and the most conservative democrat, there was a middle. today there are none. none. so it's much harder to get things done if you have basically, even though people are across the spectrum, we're not less -- i think we're a center right country, there are people on the left, right, middle and variants of both and yet the elected officials are really the democratic party, nancy pelosi is really the norm now and she is, 25 years ago
would have been very, very, considered way out of the mainstream of the democratic party. similarly on the republican side, we have people that are not represented necessarily of the people they represent. so making sure these races are competitive, i loved the fact that i ran for governor in a totally purple state. talk about purple. the reason why i loved it was i love my -- i thought that the views i had were righteous. i wanted to go share them. i wanted to be in a evangelist for liberal government, reforming schools, that's why i ran. if you are not challenged, that dynamic kind of tension and the belief where you're compelled to advance your cause goes away. we got to get back to that, too. >> so 10 days before the inauguration, how would you
jeb: he has made some extraordinary choices, some really good choices and we'll see how it plays out. i for one believe in the noble tradition, irrespective of personal views of everybody, that when someone is elected president, we pray for them and their families and we hope for the best. we hope he is successful. a successful president means we'll have a successful country. i sincerely believe that and his, the choices he has made which is the substantive part of the tweets and stuff, i'm deeply discounting.
hopefully melania will steal his phone and -- [laughter] jeb: at least, after 6:00 at night, no tweets. get him off that stuff and get him to the business of leading. he has a great team around him and that bodes well. there is lots of low hanging fruit, for sure. look, you compare the united states to the rest of the world and this is by far and away the place with the greatest possibilities, the greatest opportunities by far. and the potential of this country is enormous and with the right leadership we can attain it. if it gets off to the right start, people's spirits will be lifted. there is a great anticipation, consumer, as i said, the consumer expectations are high. people think we're moving in the right track. if he delivers some big things to begin with, it will be an
extraordinary time. >> is putin smart? [laughter] jeb: yeah. [laughter] jeb: and he is not our friend. he is smart and he is a former k.g.b. agent for starters. give me a break here. [applause] jeb: the guy, he is not just smart, he is like -- he is quick, agile. he ran circles around our president and he may run circles around our president-elect. again, we have really good people in positions of responsibility that hopefully will get us to the proper position as it relates to russia. >> a couple of international questions. if you could advise the president-elect with regard to trade with cuba, what would you say? jeb: well, we have diplomatic
relations and we got nothing in return. this has been the, i think one of the legacies of president obama is that he withdrew from the world, our friends no longer know where we stand or worse, they know where we stand and we don't stand with them and our enemies no longer fear us. the negotiations with iran and cuba are good examples of unilateral concessions with nothing in return, in my mind, at least. i would not lift the embargo until there were substantive changes in life in cuba which there literally have been minor, minor changes. the majority of the economy is controlled by the cuban government and the cuban military and the castros. all of the benefits that have accrued by opening up travel, american airlines flying down there, the cruise industry going
down there is in hard dollars for a bankrupt economy where you're sustaining the repossession of the regime. -- repression of the regime. now, having said that, if you said x, y, and z, if that's to happen, clearly we would open up more than diplomatic relations, but trade relations, that would be a great day. that means the cuban people would have a chance to live their dreams as they see fit rather than being told how to live their lives. the notion that dictators go quietly into the night, you think about it, they don't. they don't go quietly into the night. it's a really naive view. there is nothing in history that suggests that there is some epiphany in the minds of a despot. the only reason they change or get kicked out is that people rise up or they themselves realize there is no other option. the cuban regime was in that position and the obama administration could have created the opening by putting pressure on them rather than
doing the exact opposite of unilateral concessions. similarly, iran, the embargo that was put on by the obama administration started with george and then the obama administration had a dramatic impact on iran and we would have been far more successful at maintaining that pressure economically to force the change in iran to reach an agreement that would have brought about a more stable and peaceful iran rather than one that is exporting its revolution and destabilizing an entire region. look, who knows what president-elect trump will do. he is not there yet. we'll see. >> you mentioned venezuela in your remarks. in your opinion, what can the united states do to help the downtrodden people of venezuela? jeb: rewind the tape. don't unilaterally concede. bill arnold was my boss, he sent
me down to venezuela at the ripe old age of 24 to open up a representative office for texas commerce bank. it was booming back then, the most expensive city in the world. it was chaotic, crazy, wild, and i loved every minute of it. for young people, by the way, when you're given a chance to do something, i find younger people today overthink things, so the c.e.o. of the bank said i'm sending you down to venezuela. i said, yes sir. can i tell my wife? [laughter] jeb: i told her, i didn't know. i was given this chance. it sounded like the right thing to do and i made the most of it. venezuela today is a complete disaster. we tolerate the lack of liberty there. we freak out when it happens to friends in the middle east or other places. we have this passive relationship with latin america which i have never understood. it's our front yard.
it's not just mexico. it's the whole region we ignore. if you want to deal with the border issues in texas, deal with the northern triangle drug and gang cartels that are creating havoc in the most violent countries in the world are in central america. we have ignored it now. if you want to stop the flow of immigrants, the mexican immigration is actually net negative over the last five years, people are going back. the massive numbers of people leaving from honduras, el salvador and guatemala are the reasons why we have the problems along the border now. solve it by engaging in the region. and venezuela would be a great place to do it. columbia could be a great partner in this. they don't trust the united states, we abandoned the region. we could be a leader again. we were a leader when 41 was president in latin america. we were a leader when president reagan was.