tv The Axe Files CNN March 16, 2019 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
any ptsd? >> yeah, i mean it's deja vu all over again. >> what advice do you have for them? >> connect by being genuine. it's hard because you got to break out but you can't break out with crazy stuff. >> it's been done. you were the fropts runnnt-runn. i remember calling you the front-runner. you raised money and had aendor. it was supposed to be bush versus clinton. the battle of the dynasties.
>> there's a lot of great families. there's other people that are very qualified. we had enough bushes. >> what did you think when she said there have to be other family who is can contribute a president here and there? >> in retrospect it made a lot of sense. at the moment i felt like it was out of line since i was watching it live on tv. i told her, i said give me a break. i'm thinking about running. let me think about this. she said okay, i promise i won't say it again. then like two weeks later c-span starts advertising the show about first ladies and they have her saying the same thing. >> we can't find more than two or three families to run for high office, that's silly. >> i said mom, you promised. she goes i didn't say it and hung up on me. she called me back five minutes later. she said that was prior. i taped that. >> do you think she was worried
for me? >> she was worried for me and i think the dynasty thing was not helpful. for whatever reason, i didn't prevail. i gave it my all. i wish i had won. i'm out of therapy and back to my normal life. >> you say you have to be yourself and be genuine, what if it's out of step with where your party is, then you lose? >> i think i might be the poster child for that. you can't -- you have a life afterwards. i think you have to look yourself in the mirror. you have to be true to your family and to your beliefs. you can be president but are you going to be able to solve the problems that you believe are really important. can you draw people toward your cause if people believe it's an act. i think genuineness, particularly in 2020, it will be more important.
i would hope the virtue of civility might be benefit politically. there's no evidence of that right now. >> it's a contrast. >> it would. there's millions of people that are disgusted with our politics right now. maybe they can be persuaded that there's a better way, a better path forward. >> donald trump announced his can d cand candid candidacy the day after you announced yours. when you saw him come down, how seriously did you take him as a candidate? >> i'll be honest, i didn't. i don't know if he did. to his credit, i don't think anybody took him seriously but he tapped into deep seated anxiety that a lot of people in this country feel, still do today. from the get-go it was an unorthodox campaign. he broke the norms and won. i give him credit politically. my prayer, because i do pray for every president. i prayed for your friend and our
president, barack obama every day. i pray for president trump every day. my prayer is that he wakes up someday soon and realizes he's president of the united states. he's not running for office. he had to lead for all of us. we're living in perilous times. we've not seen the peril play out in front of us but 15 different things that could happen where you would want a president that really focused on what it is to be president. >> you had your interactions with him. he's a branding master. he branded you low energy jeb. >> he's very low energy. >> was it irritating? >> i was so focused on my own mission, i didn't bother me that much. the idea i'm in pretty good shape. i work out every day. as governor i worked my tail off. as a candidate i worked my butt
off. it seemed foreign to me. this branding thing, branding people is a new idea. it didn't exist per se ten years ago. now we're all branded. we're all a brand. we're like toothpaste. we're people. you don't disparage you're weak and low energy. can i tell you a quick story about this? >> sure . >> this really described my campaign. i'm intown ha a town hall meeti. laughing with people and talking with them. 30 minutes away president trump is having his campaign and he calls me a -- i can't say it. it starts with an a and ends in hole. dana bash comes to the covering trump. she comes and says, did you hear what trump called you? i said no. she said, i can't tell it. i can't tell you what he said.
how can i respond? we went back and forth. the press core is lass iughing. she said he called you blank. that's not why people should run for president. i just was a fish out of water in that game. i think other candidates that tried to ply thay that game loo really foolish. >> one of them was marco rubio who you know well. >> here is a talented guy. good solid conservativconservat. felt like he had to play that game and it looked -- >> diminished himself. >> it was a really strange election in that regard. again, i give president trump all the credit of winning in a primary that no one expected him to win. people were deeply angry or anxious or worried about the
future. fast forward swamps now probably knee high than ankle mhigh and not much has changed in washington and may be worse. >> how do you evaluate where we are and his performance? >> i can list the things that i think are helpful that help propel a little faster economic growth. the tax cuts, the regulatory changes, the judiciary over the long run. all those things are positive. he's put good people in areas of government that i admire where i think the president, it's work in progress would be on the trade issues. you parachute it in from mars. you would think that's a liberal advocating protectionism. we haven't had major crisis to
deal with but there unilateralism is dangerous. our friends feel they can no longer entrust the united states and our enemies feel emboldened. >> when i talked to my republican friends, they say look, we got judges. we got tax cuts. we've got deregulation but they say we have to tolerate a little bit of dishonesty. a little bit of incivility. >> that's where i think they're wrong. good things in terms of policy and applauds them. >> we would debate some of those rly presidents who have a duty
beyond policy of being a leader of our country, the leader of the free world, i think the symbolic, the kingly duties of the presidency, that's where he falls short. it's important. it's important during national tranl tragedies. it's important in moments of crisis. it's important in the day-to-day creation of culture that helps sustain us. >> he has struck -- i guess the word is fear in some members of your own party. he's sitting there with a 90% approval rating. there's people like congressman sanford in south carolina. senator flake, senator corker who have tangled with him no longer there. >> i would say, first of all, the net result of this could be that we, the gains we made in the obama era in the state legislature as governors, state elected officials have been reversed. we lost control of the house.
while there's a steady base to the president's credit he's pla maintained that connection. there's an erosion in a lot of other areas that could make the republican party be the minority party for a while. >> do you consider him a conservative? >> no, i don't. he's tone conservative things but he's not advocating liberal depl democracy or freedom or entrepreneurial capitalism. his message is them and us. they're bad. we're good. the party that i've affiliated myself with and the conservative ideology that i believe in, i think is hopeful and optimistic. it's forward leaning. it embraces science. it brings the individual can create more opportunity for more people than any government pr m program created.
you've got to advance that cause. you can't be they're bad. we're good. that's not a sustainable message over the long haul particularly with our demographic. >> you spoke at governor lhogans inaugurati inauguration. >> i didn't realize i was part of his pre-campaign. >> what advice would you give lim him? seems like a suicide mission. >> it does seem like an uphill battled. it talked about having to make choices and paying the price. he talked about john mccain and my dad and the civility and the courage to go against the tides at the right time. that integrity really mattered. it was a beautiful -- >> did it sound like a prelude? >> i started to think, i was introduced him and honored to be limb and him and i got a sense it should
be an opening for him. >> do you think he should run? >> i think someone should run because republicans ought to be given a choice but i think you're probably right based on the premise that he has a strong loyal base and it would be hard to beat him. it's hard to beat a sitting president. to have a conversation about what it is to be a conservative, i think it's important. our countkucountry needs to hav competing ideologies. focus on the world we're in and the world we're moving towards rather than revert back to a nostalgic time. the democrats are proposing new ideas. some of which i think are way out there. if republicans think they can just say that's bad, that could be bad for us. coming up. >> i think i said you fumbled on the two yard line but you recovered and scored. biopharmaceutical researchers.
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in his inaugural address your dad said america is never holy herself unless she's engaged in a high principle. >> we of the people have such today. it is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world. >> what's america's high moral principle today? >> it's eroded, big time. the country at our best we're a bottom up country. the more we focus on the talking heads in washington who are obsessed about how the president's tweets. we ignore the fact that in houston, texas they have eliminated homelessness for veterans. many massachusetts, they have developed an incredible strategy to deal with the opioid epidemic. there's all sorts of phenomenal
things happening not waiting for washington to get their act together. my dad was talking about each of us have a responsibility to act on our consciousness and help others and be kinder and gentler about it. i think that's still alive. i don't think that's an old clic cliche. it's clearly not that way in washington. >> when i read that quote, i looked at you and i saw you smile. you lost your dad. you lost your mom all in a short period of time. being the bush family you had to grieve in public, as public families do. what did that outpouring of public support mean to you? >> it meant a lot. it meant a lot to all of our family. it helped us -- i still miss my dad every day. i think of my mom or dad and just kind of -- it just comes into our lives. people that have had similar kind of experiences share that same thing.
>> it's unusual to lose both your parents in such a short period of time. >> it is. they didn't leave anything on the playing field. they lived a full life. we celebrated their lives during the four days when the nation pressed the pause button. what was interesting is all of the stories that came out that i never heard. there are hundreds of stories that i've heard about just simple acts of generosity and kindness that really more than anything else defined my dad. >> at the funeral, your brother made this very moving eulogy and he broke down at the end. i noted that when he went back to his seat, you reached over laura and you kind of nudged him and said something and smiled. what was it that you said to him? >> i think i said you fumbled on the two yard line but you recovered and scored. it was very moving. the whole thing was great. the point of why there was so
much interest in this is there was kind of a consensus this was a bygone era. that's wrong. that's totally -- we're so self-absorbed in the here and now. culture is not -- doesn't just march linearally. life doesn't. there's always the chance to restore the things in the past that are important. i think it's really important to have a sense of history and a sense of who we are a a natis a. we can't just be mean and ugly to one another. there will be a point. there will be something that happens that restores this. it's not the end of an era. >> there's been a pendular kind of quality to our history. >> you have the gen z that will be the dominant in the political and economic force. already making huge difference in what we eat, the styles. all of that is being driven by
younger people. my guess is there will be a spark in their generations that will be much healthier than what we have now. they're not as hyper partisan. they don't drive this hyper partisanship that we're living in. >> your dad began in politics in the '60s. he was known for his civilit, bipartisan. the way he cherished democratic institutions and so on. he had an extraordinary one term. the end of the berlin wall falling. the dissolution of the soviet union. >> reunification of germany. >> and then the gulf war. in the midst of it he had to make a decision about taxes and about agreeing to a package that included tax increasing to try
to deal with budget deficits after having famously said at the republican convention no new taxes. >> read my lips, no new taxes. >> he wrote in his diary or dictated that he felt like he may have ended his career with that decision. did you talk to him at all? >> i did. i opposed the idea for the reason that i wanted him to win. in retro specspect, it worked. it create ed budget constraints that democrats and republicans add he adhered to. later on president clinton could claim he was the first president to preside over budget surpluses. that was the '91 agreement that created that. it also had in it social security. >> presidents often claim credit for economic achievements of
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it's one of the things that makes it so lively and appealing. >> yeah. >> we live in a time where diversity has become such a flash point in our politics. >> yeah. when i ran, it was so foreign to hear the things that were being said in a republican primary. this is my home and this place has got 60% of its population was born in another country. my experience is that once they're established here, they love this country. they embrace the american experience. the shared values that we need to keep going forward are here as well. >> yeah. the caricature of the immigrant is sad. >> it was painful and hurtful for a lot of people. my wife is an immigrant. my children are mexican-american. it was offensive to hear our president talk that way and othe others mimic limb. they think that wins over folks. rather than play that game,
maybe we ought to fix our immigration system and control the border in the appropriate way and create a guest worker program and do the things necessary to for lessen peoples fear. >> you were on the stage when he promised that wall of mexico. >> can't make it up. >> what tdid you think of that? >> there's places where it works and places it doesn't. the boarder patrol dealing with immigrants is visa over stayers. this isn't about politics. this is about wedge issues on both sides now. it's a missed opportunity. this is such a unique american attribute to be able to absorb people who have a burning desire to skucceed for themselves and their families. people feel affected by the changing nature of our country. i don't think we, as republican,
we have become more reactionary rather than hopeful and optimistic. we're not going to win over the long haul by just stoking people's fears. well fanned or not. i think public leaders and candidates should be bigger than that. >> so, i remember you lost 40 pounds before you ran for president. >> why you bring that up? >> you lost and you come back and invest in a donut shop. what kind of a statement was that? >> there is an experience. not place to buy donuts. >> this is art. >> they take pictures of their donuts. they sit outside and talk about thaw d their donuts and have coffee. >> i want to talk about miami and why you came here in first place and somehow like every good story, it feels like it began with a girl. >> that's exactly right. i met my wife when i was 17 and i fell madly in love.
>> in mexico. >> in mexico. i tell people my life can be betweened b.c. and a.c. i got married. we had children. we moved to venezuela. our family is bilingual and by cultural. miami in 1980 was different than now. not as vivibrant. i felt like it was place my children could grow up and be proud of their heritage and it turned out befopretty good. >> you were kind of a screw up. you went to prep school. >> it was transformative for sure. it would be a blessing if everybody had that chance to have everything aligned the right way at an early age. for me it was -- it's not -- i tell this story in front of crowds. the women go ohh and the men go,
yeah right. it was love at first sight and motivate med to get on with life. >> it must have been for her challenging. you're not the typical family. >> i don't think i've told my wife that my dad was the director of the cia. unfortunately, i did something i hope my children would never do to me. i told my parents we were going to get married three weeks or a month later and they had never met her. bad police take. 15 yard penalty loss. my mom handled it better than i would have. she said you're not going to marry this woman until i meet her. i said, that's okay. she came the weekend before. my dad met her on the rehearsal dinner. >> she didn't really speak english then. >> not much. now she's fluent and an american citizen. >> you were a prominent family in houston. there must have been a bit of an
aproproach aversion to the histy to that. >> there were people that written about this in the '50s and '60s, the prominent families weren't isolated from everybody else. our friends were, some were wealthy. some were not so wealthy. no one really knew. he talked about the astros and little league baseball. i never really felt like i was from a prominent family. my dad didn't get involved in politics until he was 40. >> back in 1980, you were a significant player in that 1980 campaign for president of your fathers. in part because you're fluent in spanish. you spent a lot of time in puerto rico. helped him win the commonwealth. you were interviewed at time. i saw this interview of a young jeb bush. you said it's not something i'd like to do for the rest of my
life. i get nervous at first. i'm not a politician. when did you decide you were a politician? >> i'm introverted. i've overcome all that. at the time i saw the stuff that looked so weird in politics. i did it and i kind of overcame any trepidation but my motivation to run for office really happened when i was secretary of commerce and saw the potential. >> here in florida you got appointed secretary of commerce. >> yeah. i kind of slowly got sucked into the vortex of campaigns and things. the idea of running started with seeing up close the power of being governor and the power to set the agenda. it's really stimulating and exciting. >> you were kind of the guy who everybody thought in the family this is a guy who has some political promise. this is the guy who is going to go places. then your brother, george, decides he's going to run for governor of texas. he owns the texas rangers.
th that turns tout be a pretty good place to be. you are both running at the same time. you lose and he won. you must have had enormous conflict of feelings about that. >> i think george felt worse than i did just because when you love your family and someone that you love doesn't win, it's harder than yourself losing. i think he suffered more about that temporarily than i did. >> your dad lost several races. >> he did. >> when he was comforting you, counselling you after that, did he have any advice for you and how to deal with the aftermath of that? >> no. he didn't have to get me advice. his life lessons were embedded in me. >> you watched him pick himself up. >> we're not a family that sits
around on a couch and meditate and say oh woe is me. didn't take me long to figure out why i lost. the learning experience happens when you lose, not when you win. >> you had painful experience when you were governor. your daughter was struggling. she had -- with addiction. how painful is that for you? >> well, for both of us it was painful to see your daughter spin out of control. she's now, thankfully, healthy, drug free, working in orlando. for her, to see her struggle, irrespective of whether it was a public spectacle or not, it's horrible. you add on top it, it was really difficult. the prosecutor and the whole system were put in a position where they couldn't show any compassion because if they did, they would be accused of
favoritism. it made it more difficult. >> when you ran in '94, you ran a very tough anti-crime platform. you see all across the country and in washington conservatives and liberals now working together on this issue, criminal justice reform. it feels like we're in a different place now. >> we are. florida just passed the instituti constitutional amendment to deal with restoration of voting rights. >> did you support that? >> i did. i voted for it. i think that's a signal of moving towards a restorative justice approach. there's a left center right coalition now to look at these thing things. i think that's okay. part of our problem in the country right now is that we're having a hard time recognizing that 2019 is different than 1999
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you ran for governor in '94 and lost. you ran again in '98 and education reform became kind of the central organizing theme of your campaign. it's been since. this is an issue that's of great passion for you. why? >> your legitimate concern about the gap between people of wealth and people in the middle and people in poverty, how do we break out of it over the long haul. it's to give people, young people, the chance to achieve earned success. you can't do that in the world we're living in without a
quality education. so many young people are left e behind and excused away whether it's in chicago or miami. a third of our children truly college and or career ready. that's not acceptable. our foundation focuses on that. as governor, i did as well, i did it as candidate in '98. i didn't in '94 as much. i went to visit 250 schools which is kind of hard to do in a yearlong campaign. you see the great heroic efforts of teachers and you see teachers that have lost their enthusiasm for it. there's a moral imperative here. i'm passionate about this because i see this is one of the most important things that we can do as a society to make sure people have a chance to rise up. if not, these gaps in income and culture and all the things now that separate us, we are tearing our country apart without a debate and education is the path
forward to unite us again. >> the three prongs of reform that you've advocated, that you try to implement here in florida go to standards, to accountability and to choice. >> right. >> when the obama administration came into office, a lot of ideas that you had were ideas embraced by arnie duncan. the idea of a common core. there's certain standards that should be national. 44 states adopted these standards. then it got caught up in politics. now you saw this appliance between the tea party and the teachers unions. >> the common core standards were voluntarily created by 44 states or 46 or 48 states to start with. president obama endorsed it which became part of the problem because there was a notion it was federalizing standards,
which was not the case. >> it's a microcosm. it's a parable about our politics. >> very much so. people began to believe that arnie duncan would be the superintendent of all schools. it was a total mess. even today, there's the remnants of that. >> your own governor ran against common core standards. >> he did. we've changed our standards. they will be further modificati modification. commonality is fine. i don't have a problem with that as long as there's all sorts of diverse strategies to achieve the expectation of what those standards mean. that was what was the intent of this. high standards with accountability around those standards where you assess and don't over test and assess where children are and develop va strategies to make sure they
catch up. all of that is important. >> providing the resources for schools to do that. >> yeah. this needs to be done at the state level. people are fearful of too much intervention. >> betsy devos was on the board of your foundation and you recommended her to be education secretary. she's run into a whole bunch of controversies. roll back campus sexual assault standards, civil rights protections. >> i speak a lot of places. liberal crowds, conservative crowds and i defend betsy devos. it's pretty amazing what people think of her. i know her to be a very compassionate and passionate person for kids that have been left behind. >> one of the things that happened that contributes to that is she's on 60 minutes. you talk about the schools you visited.
she was asked whether she had visited a low performing public school and she said i hadn't thought about that. >> have you seen the really bad schools maybe try to figure out what they're doing? >> i have not. i have not. i have not intentionally visited schools that are under performing. >> maybe you should. >> maybe i should. >> she got off to a bad start. we'll leave it at that. i think she's done a good job. i'm going to be loyal to her because i know she would be loyal to me. up next. >> when an executive committee member of the texas republican party spouts out white supremacy, pound him. ahh, new h? well, you should definitely see how geico could help you save on homeowners insurance. nice tip. i'll give you two bucks for the chair. two?! that's a victorian antique! all right, how much for the recliner, then? wait wait... how did that get out here? that is definitely not for sale! is this a yard sale?
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i want to take you back to election night 2000. when you were in your brother's suite on election night when he was running for president. now you realize, it is all coming down to florida. and the original call was, it wasn't going his way. >> a big call to make. cnn announces that we call florida in the al gore column. >> what was your feeling when you were standing there and the whole election -- >> they called florida at 7:00. and it stunned me. i was the chairman of the campaign. i knew it was going to be close. i thought we were going to win. and i went and had you gone my brother and told him i loved him and i would go upstairs and start making calls. >> you were the sitting governor at the time. >> yeah.
i took day off. i started making call and they said stand by. >> assistant by, stand by. cnn is moving our earlier declaration of florida back to the too close to call column. >> we went over to the governor's mansion much later in the evening. and gore calls to concede. and i said, george, i don't know. i called friends in miami who were giving me precinct by precinct. what was left. and it was predominantly democratic precincts. imagine, he's just been, his point has conceded the race. 20,000 people outside. it is 2:00 in the morning. he wants to go and i'm telling him. i'm not sure you should do this. and he handled it probably better than i would have. he didn't handle it great but pretty good. >> when you told him that? >> yeah. and then it happened pretty quick that the number started
changing. in the midst of this, gore calls back. there are some things that hollywood producers don't have the creativity to come up with that reality can be even more interesting. no one could have predicted the nature of his presidency which was really defined by 9/11 and the war. you saw him struggle with that and his political standing took big hit. how did you work through that? how did that impact on you? >> it didn't impact me. but as a loyal brother, who loved him, it hurt. i felt like the last two years, particularly, they gave up fighting. the team, they were getting pounded. okay. just take incoming. and i always thought that was wrong.
the surge was successful. and the war on terror was successful in some ways and they stopped defending it. it was interesting being governor for six of those years. and there were times when it wasn't front and center and damage was being done in some ways. like the hurricane responses. i never blamed fema for anything. fema didn't do a great job but my job was to deal with that. we were grateful for the support. it is easy to blame washington when you're supposed to be doing a job and it is not working out as well. >> people speak much more warmly about him now. maybe in part because of the contrast of what -- >> that's common. isn't that a natural thing? they forget reasons they disliked somebody. george is so comfortable with
himself. he is hilarious. he is respectful of the office. and he is just a good man. >> where were you, dude? are you done, do you think? i think it's time for a new generation to take hold. there are a lot of things clawing, holding on. i'm 66. for the field of presidential candidates, i would be a young one in the democratic primary. i think that's, what will likely happen from here forward. you're going to find talented people in their 30s and 40s.
>> one of those is george p. bush. he's your son and the land commissioner in texas snf. >> i'm proud of him. he is a microcosm of the republican party nationally. my advice is, you're there to do your job. be really good at your job and be true to who you are. so when an executive committee member of the texas republican party spouts out white supremacy, pound him. it is uncalled for. when people think they're being big shots, when they shout out anti-immigrant slurs, call them out. you don't have to do everything in the world. but there are time when i think too many elected officials, particularly, are silent. and it enables the kind of behavior for the next person. and he's done it.
there is a risk associated with that. >> i probably should worry about it more. >> did he have ever to talk to you like with your mom, we have too many bushes? >> no. but they'll give me a call. it is time to let him be the -- he doesn't need to have my baggage on top of his. >> what are your hopes for him? >> well, this will get him all upset. i home there's an opportunity where he can run for governor. it is the best job in the world. texas is a phenomenal state to do something like that. >> you know what they call them down there. they call them 47. did you see that? >> yeah, he know. what i hope is that he has a chance to serve as governor. if not, he is really talented. he and his wife will be
successful in everything they do. >> great to be with you. >> 47. for more on this conversation, you can down led to podcast. this weekend, the people of new zealand are in mourning. still deeply in shock just days after the worst ever act of gun violence there. the official death toll just went up a short time ago. official confirming that 50 people are dead. victims of a terrorist rampage friday. they prayed in two different mosques in christchurch. dozens more were wounded. some of them children. some still in critical condition. we learned the accused gunman, a 28-year-old australian, sent a long hate-filled