Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on California Politics

This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, October 9, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

DAVID ASMAN, GUEST HOST: President Bush is not the only member of the Bush family celebrating Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory in California.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (search) says he is also looking forward to welcoming Schwarzenegger to the ranks of conservative leaders in the country. His dramatic recall victory could change the balance of power in national politics. And that's today's big question — will recall politics help or hurt President Bush in 2004? Governor, welcome. Does Arnold have political coattails?

JEB BUSH, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: It's too early to tell. If he takes on the big challenges that he faces as California governor and can solve the budget problems and improve the business climate, I think that he will be of tremendous help. And he has every capability of doing that. California is an incredible place. It will rebound quickly if the business climate issues that have hurt small businesses and have had people leaving the state in hordes is reversed, then their budget problems will subside.

ASMAN: Now, it is an amazing place, California. It also very often is a trendsetter. Think of Proposition 13, which even President Reagan credited with starting the tax revolution in the 1980s. Do you think there is a trend to be noted out of California?

BUSH: Well, if you try to tax your way to prosperity, if you spend more than you take in and you use phony budget gimmicks to try to cover it up, whether you live in Florida or Montana or any place, and, of course, California, you're going to get in trouble. I'm not sure that that's necessarily a trend. I think people are angry when the political class violates the trust. And that's what happened in California and Arnold can restore it.

ASMAN: Now those businesses that have been burned, that have been moved out of the state, how do you coax them back in?

BUSH: You lower the workers' compensation costs which are, by far and away, the highest in the country. You don't try to impose mandates on small businesses, you don't try to tax all sorts of different things. You make it easier to have more transparent regulation. There are hundreds of things that we're trying to do here in Florida to induce businesses to come. We lead the nation in job growth and it's with a similar kind of situation as California. So, it can be done.

ASMAN: Now the tax foundation, which has been around for 60 years or so ranks states in terms of how they are business-friendly. Whether they are or they aren't. California ranks number 49 as far as being unfriendly to business. You rate up in the top 10. And I understand you want to turn Florida into what California has with Silicon Valley (search). You want to have a similar thing with biotech research. Tell us about it.

BUSH: Well, the Scripps Research Institute (search) out of San Diego, which is the largest private research institute in the world, is — has announced jointly with me today that they want to build a Scripps Florida. We're going to put up hopefully through a special session, the money will be appropriated, $310 million. The local community will put up close to $120 million to $140 million. And over seven years, we'll build a facility that will replicate the incredible research by incredible scientists being done at Scripps in La Jolla.

What happened in San Diego and in San Francisco, and I believe will happen in Palm Beach County, as well, is the clustering of additional research, and startup businesses and big pharma will generate thousands of high-wage jobs. While we lead the nation in job growth, our aspiration is to also be a leader in higher income for Florida families.

ASMAN: Sounds exciting. Best of luck. But one final question, I have to ask a personal question, Governor. About eight years ago, I remember Paul Gigot in The Wall Street Journal wrote a piece, a terrific piece saying you were going to follow in your father's foot steps, you were the one who was going to run for president. It turned out to be your brother. How did that happen?

BUSH: He is the older one.

ASMAN: It's that simple, huh?

BUSH: Older, and smarter and more successful. He was a great governor of Texas, ran a great campaign and I think he's been a great president.

ASMAN: You're a gracious brother. Gov. Jeb Bush, thanks very much for coming in. Appreciate it.

BUSH: You bet.

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