Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said in a speech Wednesday that while he loves his father and brother, he is his “own man” and wishes to set himself apart from his family’s presidential past before he launches a presidential campaign for 2016.
At an event hosted by the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, he made it a point to highlight his desire to distance himself from his father and brother’s views on foreign policy in particular, though he acknowledged that they both “shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office."
“I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs’— sometimes in contrast to theirs’," he said. “I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man — and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences. Each president learns from those who came before — their principles … their adjustments. One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world … and changing circumstances.”
According to the Washington Post, Bush will rely on “at least 21 veteran foreign policy and diplomatic experts” to shape his views ahead of a 2016 presidential campaign launch. Two of the experts will reportedly include former George W. Bush staff members Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, both of whom were Homeland Security secretaries, as well as former CIA directors Porter Goss and Michael Hayden. Here, courtesy of the Washington Post, is a venn diagram showing the overlaps between the foreign policy teams of Jeb Bush, his father, his brother and Ronald Reagan:
In his speech, Bush stressed that leadership in the United States is “more necessary than ever.”
“American leadership projected consistently and grounded in principle has been a benefit to the world,” he said. “I have doubts whether this administration believes American power is such a force. Under this administration, we are inconsistent and indecisive. We have lost the trust and the confidence of our friends. We definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies.
“The great irony of the Obama Presidency is this: Someone who came to office promising greater engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world,” he added.
Bush also used Wednesday’s platform to address his brother’s controversial decision to enter into war with Iraq.
“There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure,” he acknowledged.
Democrats later responded to Bush’s speech and the claim that he is his own man.
“We know that Jeb Bush is leaning on more than a dozen foreign policy advisers who were the architects of George W. Bush’s cowboy foreign policy agenda that damaged the country’s reputation abroad,” Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Holly Shulman said.