OTR Interviews

Longtime friend: Jeb Bush could be a 'difference maker' in 2016 and here's why

A friend of the former Florida governor gives insight


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 17, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Our next guest is the former chairman of the American Conservative Union. He also has been friends with former Governor Jeb Bush for decades. Al Cardenas joins us.

Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: I noticed you've told us about the fact that Governor Jeb Bush might run for president. You said you have mixed feelings but you go on to say but he'll be a difference maker. What did you mean by that?

CARDENAS: A difference maker, meaning, look, we live in an area of gridlock. Less people turn out to vote than they ever did before. More people are registering no party affiliation. Folks don't seem to be happy with either party.

So Jeb Bush, who's a conservative problem solver, is coming and saying, look, it's time we get together, we heal our nation, we move forward with a positive vision, but we've got things to do. We've got energy policy to put together. We've got tax reform. We've got to balance our budget. We've got to deal with our entitlements. I'm going to be the candidate with ideas. I'm not going to go out there with a strategist telling me precisely how to win. I'm going to share my vision. And I hope the American people buy into it. I hope they do. If they don't, I'll go home in peace. But I'm not going to be led by a group of strategists who tell me what to say, what not to say, and end up in a process where I'm part of this toxic environment that politics is all about today. He's just not going to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can tell you, I hear from the consultants in these races all the time and so I get the frustration that candidates can have with the consultants, especially if you listen to them.

But I'm curious, there's a big difference from being a great governor or a great president than being a great campaigner, which is the only route to the Oval Office. In Iowa, you've got to go door to door. You've got to be in kitchens. You've got to talk to the people. Some people are better talking to audiences. Is he the kind that can sit in a kitchen? And is he willing to do that?

CARDENAS: I've seen Jeb Bush walk down a street with me in the dark of night and stop to see a homeless man and see how he was doing. This is a different kind of candidate, one of the most caring, one of the most compassionate candidates you're going to see in the trail in your lifetime.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm curious, what's the downside for him? What's going on in his mind, why he might not? It sure looks like his toe is in the water, but why might he not run?

CARDENAS: Well, look, he's proud of his family. He's got one son who just won statewide office in Texas. He's got another son who's by his side every day in business. He loves his daughter, loves his wife. He travels a lot but is more at home than he was before. He's dangled a bit in business. He's done well there. He gets to play golf on Sundays. He's going to give up a lot of this life to try to help America get back on its feet and to heal our country. And that's a major sacrifice and he's giving up a lot to do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does he have that fire in the belly to do that?

CARDENAS: He's the most competitive guy I've ever met. I've been with him and two campaigns for his dad, three campaigns for him, two campaigns for his brother, and he's the most tireless worker, most compassionate and competitive guy I've met in the process. So he'll be ready for anything and anyone, if he decides to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: We just saw a picture of the two of you. And, of course, I hope you'll come back, because if he does get in, we'll need to talk to you a lot and find out what's going on in the Governor Bush campaign.

Thank you, sir, for joining us.

CARDENAS: My pleasure. Thanks, Greta.