This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 10, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Americans are coming out of the woodwork to talk about what's happening to this country, including our next guest who hasn't done any television interviews since leaving the governor's mansion in Florida more than two years ago. Now, here is more of my exclusive interview with the former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush.
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HANNITY: Governor, you do so few interviews, I will be negligent in my duties if I don't ask you a few political questions. I hope you don't mind.
JEB BUSH (R), FMR FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I don't mind.
HANNITY: You did consider a run for the Senate, and then you, you know, decided against it. Tell us a little bit about the thought process that went into that.
BUSH: Well, I started at a skeptic about whether my DNA would be appropriate in the Senate, but frankly I got convinced that I could play a positive role in some way in Washington, so I considered it, but the problem is that right now in my life, I need to attain some degree of financial security for my family and pursuits of ambition in politics is just not appropriate at this time for me. I'll still stay involved in helping others, and I'll stay involved in education reform, for sure.
HANNITY: Now, your father is on record as saying that he thinks you'd be a pretty good president, and I wouldn't expect him to say anything else. Down the road, maybe when you get to the level of financial success that you want and achieved these other goals that you're stating, is this something you'd consider maybe, running for president one day?
BUSH: You know, you never say never, but I don't wake up each day, as I know a few other people are waking up, how can I move forward, get closer to my dream of running for president. I love my country, I love my state, and I'm actively involved in civil and political life, but not as a candidate, and my expectation is that that won't change. But thanks for asking, Sean.
HANNITY: You didn't expect me not to ask. I'd be negligent in my duties.
But look, I would not be surprised to see you reemerge on the political scene one day, especially with the great track record you've had in Florida, the conservative values. You led the state, a lot of people would like to see that happen, you show up in all these polls.
But, I wonder to what extent, because I've been a fan of your brothers who just left office, and he was under unrelenting attack on an almost daily basis, but yet he kept this country safe after the worst attack in history, he got out of a recession he inherited, the negative impact on the economy and 9/11, and he's still attacked on a daily basis, and I'm sure you've heard and read a lot of these things.
As his brother, does it bother you? Do you think he's been treated unfairly, as I believe he's been treated unfairly?
BUSH: Absolutely. I think with each passing presidency the vitreal in Washington has gotten worse, and it was taken to new heights with my brother with increasing nastiness in his eight years as president, and I admire him greatly for not turning back and not getting involved in the food fight.
And I admire him now for not being critical of President Obama because he's been in that position, and he is mindful of the fact that it's a difficult job, and he wants our president to succeed.
I would, if I had one humble criticism of President Obama, it would be to stop this notion of somehow framing everything in the context of everything was bad before I got here and focus on his duties, which we all want him to succeed. But constantly pushing down the previous president to make yourself look good, I think is a bad thing.
HANNITY: You know, it's interesting because your father when he left office had probably as many opportunities as anybody can have to criticize the person that followed him which was Bill Clinton, and your father was, for the most part, very silent while he was governing, meaning President Clinton. Now, they've since become, by all apparent outward appearances, they've become pretty good friends.
BUSH: They're buddies.
HANNITY: Do you think that should be the standard for people that leave that office?
BUSH: I think it definitely should be the standard, and I think the current occupant of the White House shouldn't be turning back and trying to refer context for everything that they're doing. There are a lot of people that want Barack Obama, President Obama, to succeed, and I'm one of them, and the notion that somehow you're always trying to frame it in a political context, whatever you're trying to do rather than actually just propose in a transparent way what you want to do and fight for your beliefs, is something that I think is not going to help him be successful, and as a son, and as a brother, a son of a president and a brother of a president, I don't like it. You know, I love my brother, and history will judge him, and it will judge him very fairly, I think, and they'll judge him kindly.
HANNITY: And I agree with that, too, for the prism of history, I think, the Bush presidency will be seen in a very different light. We know what happened in the case of Harry Truman. We're going to eventually get to read the threat assessments that he read every morning when he woke up, and people might have a very different picture, getting to know the reality of what he dealt with.
But look, I understand, and there was a big controversy when Rush said if he is going to be a socialist, I want socialism to fail. We are going to have more debt that he has proposed than all the debt that was accumulated from George Washington to your brother, it will increase the debt that level.
We have record spending. He doesn't want to use the term "enemy combatant," "war on terror," he's closing Gitmo, no more enhanced interrogations. There are really dramatic differences between the way your brother was governing and the way Barack Obama is governing. I'm concerned that we're going in the wrong direction.
Do you share, even though your stated desire is for him to succeed, do you believe these policies can succeed based on his stated policy?
BUSH: I don't think our country will be better off with huge debt that we're now putting on the shoulders of the next — ourselves and the next generation. I don't think our country will be better off on not focusing on the fact that there are terrorists around the world, and they need to be confronted directly.
So, while I say I want our president to succeed, I do, and it's in the broadest sense possible, and I think that the point being that if we have differing views, it should be discussed with civility, there should be openness and transparency, that's why I love your show, you bring people on that disagree with you, and you express your views. I more often than not, like your view than the views of people that disagree with you.
HANNITY: I'm glad to hear that, Governor.
BUSH: We should have a hearty debate about the future of the country and not personalize everything and not get into this — the standard political food fight where we manipulate ideas rather than have an open discussion about them. But certainly, I don't believe that government is the end all and be all, that we ought to be providing incentives for businesses to invest, and people should pursue their dreams as they see fit, and the cumulative effect of that will create much more prosperity than the path we appear to be on today.
HANNITY: All right, Governor, I promise, last question. You have recently talked about the Republican Party needing to be more inclusive, and if I recall properly, you were talking specifically about the issue of immigration.
Does that mean that Republicans that don't support amnesty or the ability of illegal immigrants to stay in the country because they didn't respect our laws and sovereignty — are you saying that that is the mistake or what did you mean specifically by the party having to be more inclusive?
BUSH: Well, as — I think I was talking about Hispanics, and for the first time we saw a significant drop-off after pretty significant gains among Republican candidates gaining Hispanic votes that we saw a huge turn-around in these last two election cycles, and for me it's a question of tone.
It's a question of when you start sending a signal it's them versus us rather than we're all in it together, here are our views, we want you to embrace our views, but don't send a signal that we're somehow separate from the largest minority in the country, and the fastest growing voting bloc in the country. I think that's foolish from a practical political sense and the results are there for people to see.
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