Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush wouldn’t fit in today’s dogmatic Republican Party, Mitt Romney ought to change his tone on immigration, and even if Romney is elected, the experienced businessman won’t be able improve the job market in the near future.
Those were some of the candid criticisms levied Monday by Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, who expressed frustration with his party and its presumptive presidential nominee.
“Ronald Reagan would have - based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, similar to my dad - they would have had a hard time if you define the Republican Party - and I don’t - as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement,’’ Bush said during a media question-and-answer session in New York, hosted by Bloomberg View.
“Back to my dad’s time or Ronald Reagan’s time, they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support that right now would be difficult to imagine happening,’’ he said.
Bush added that Democrats, too, are overly partisan, and he said President Obama has failed to display the transcendent leadership he advertised four years ago.
Romney has compared himself to both Republican presidents during the campaign, such as when he explained his changed position on abortion during a debate in December.
“I’ve learned over time, like Ronald Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush and others, my experience in life . . . has told me that sometimes I was wrong,’’ Romney said. “Where I was wrong, I’ve tried to correct myself.’’
In particular, Romney has worked to cast himself as a small- government advocate in the mold of Reagan, a Republican icon.
Bush’s declaration that Reagan would be out of place in the contemporary GOP rankled party members, including Grover Norquist, whose hard-line antitax pledge - signed by 274 congressional Republicans - represents the sort of intractability Bush decried.
Norquist called Bush’s assertion about Reagan “foolish’’ and “bizarre,’’ and said today’s GOP “is the Republican Party that Reagan created, that he envisioned.’’
On immigration, Bush advised Romney to change his approach.
“Don’t just talk about Hispanics and say immediately we must have controlled borders,’’ said Bush, who has endorsed Romney and is a member of the candidate’s Hispanic Steering Committee. “It’s kind of insulting when you think about it. Change the tone would be the first thing. Second, on immigration, I think we need to have a broader approach.’’
Bush also threw water on Romney’s promise to turn around the economy quickly.
“I think we’re in a period here for the next year of pretty slow growth; I don’t see how we get out, notwithstanding who’s president,’’ Bush said. “We’ve got major headwinds with Europe and a slowdown for Asia as well.’’ - CALLUM BORCHERS
Romney plans bus tour through 6 swing states
Mitt Romney will launch a five-day bus tour on Friday through six critical swing states, taking his campaign to small towns in a return to the retail politicking that has been cast aside in recent weeks for a schedule of ferocious fund-raising.
Romney is planning to start the “Every Town Counts’’ tour in Stratham, N.H., where he announced his presidential campaign last year. The tour will continue through Pennsylvania on Saturday and Ohio on Sunday. He will be in Wisconsin and Iowa on June 18, before closing the tour in his native Michigan on June 19.
“For 3 1/2 years, President Obama has paid little attention to the everyday concerns of the American people,’’ Romney said in a statement. “President Obama has offered no hope for the future, and he has left American families to bear the burden of his failed policies.’’ - MATT VISER
Democrats attack Romney with ads in Spanish
Democrats announced a $4 million ad campaign Monday in an attempt to cast Mitt Romney as an out-of-touch wealthy businessman who does not understand the concerns of one of the fastest growing segments of the electorate, Hispanics.
The Spanish-language ads, sponsored by the Service Employees International Union and Priorities USA Action, will start running this week and will appear throughout the summer. They will air on television and radio stations in Colorado, Nevada, and Florida - all swing states with numerous Hispanics.
It marks a major new push by one of the largest labor unions and the super PAC supporting Obama, Priorities USA Action.
The ad campaign uses several gaffes from Romney over the past year.
In one clip, Romney says, “You can focus on the very poor. That’s not my focus.’’ He had been trying to argue that the focus should be the middle class and not the wealthy, who have means, or the poor, who have “an ample safety net.’’ - MATT VISER