Jeb Bush: Republicans need to start being for things

Former Florida governor speaks out at CPAC 2015


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 27, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity" as we are from CPAC. Now, later tonight, we're going to check in with Senator Marco Rubio. We'll check in with Donald Trump, and also we'll check in with former governor Rick Perry.

But first, on the main stage earlier today. I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss issues with former governor Jeb Bush.


HANNITY: We've had your dad and your brother as president of the United States. You made a statement the other day, you said, Well, wait a minute, I am my own man.

JEB BUSH, R-FMR. FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Yeah. So if I go beyond the consideration of the possibility of running, which is the legal terminology that many of the people here coming to CPAC are probably using to not trigger a campaign-- if I get beyond that and I run for president, I have to show what's in my heart. I have to show that I care about people, about their future.

It can't be about the past. It can't be about my mom and dad or my brother, who I love. I love them all. It has to be about the ideas that I believe in to move our country forward so that we can have high sustained economic growth, where more people have a chance at earned success because in America today, more and more people don't think that system works for them anymore. And for conservatives to win, we need to give them hope that if we create the field of dreams, that people can rise up again.

HANNITY: Let me ask you-- the last time you were at CPAC, this was picked up-- it was in the-- I think The Washington Post today-- you said, All too often, we're-- I think you were talking about conservatives-- we are labeled and associated with being anti-everything. Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker and the list goes on. I want you to expand on that.

BUSH: Sure. So look, I think the conservatives in Washington have been principled in opposing the overreach, and they've actually done a pretty good job. The president jammed down the throat ''Obama care,'' the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank and the stimulus. But we have fought in a principled way increased-- he's now using his executive power to try to carry out his agenda. But over time, we have to start being for things again.

And I think what we need to be for is a strong national defense-- 


BUSH: --where we are committed each and every day to protect the homeland with these new asymmetric threats that exist, that are real. It's not a joke. This is-- this-- these are threats that not just have an impact in the neighborhood in the Middle East or certainly have an impact on Israel.  It impacts us, as well. And so we need to stand for a strong national defense and the defense of the homeland.

And we need to give people a sense that if we started growing our economy again, the middle would start having rising income again. And what you would do to do that is offer compelling alternatives to the failed tax policies, the failed regulation policies, a broken education system, and making sure that people know that we're on their side to rise up.

So it's good to oppose the bad things, but we need be to start being for things. And here-- Sean, here's the deal. Here's the deal. There are a lot of-- obviously, there are a lot of committed conservatives in this room, and this is why it's a spectacular gathering. There are a lot of other conservatives that haven't been asked. They don't know that they're conservative. If we share our enthusiasm and love for our country and belief in our philosophy, we will be able to get Latinos and young people and other people that you need to win to get 50!


HANNITY: This is-- Governor, let me-- every-- every article I have read talks about you and a divide with the conservative movement over two issues. I want to deal with--

BUSH: I read about it.

HANNITY: You saw it once in a while? And it has to do with immigration and Common Core.

BUSH: Yeah.

HANNITY: So let's-- let's directly deal with this.

BUSH: Yeah.

HANNITY: Now, you said, Yeah, they broke the law. It's not a felony.  It's an act of love. You also said that you support a pathway to citizenship. And I want-- and when you were governor-- two other things.  When you were governor, you supported driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, and you supported in-state tuition prices for those children of illegal immigrants that weren't citizens.


HANNITY: Wait a minute! Hang on. I want-- 


HANNITY: I want to give you an opportunity to address that.

BUSH: Sure. So on immigration-- I wrote a book about this. And instead of people opining about what I believe, they might want to read the book.  It's called ''Immigration Wars.'' You can get it on Amazon for probably a buck-99.  It's probably deeply discounted.

And in that book, I talk about, first and foremost, the need to enforce the borders. A great country needs to enforce borders for national security purposes, public health purposes and the rule of law. First and foremost, we have to do that.

Secondly, we need to narrow family petitioning so that it's the same as every other country, spouse and minor children, not this broad definition of spouse, minor children, adult siblings and adult parents that crowds out what we need, which are economic-driven immigrants, those that want to come here to work-- 


BUSH: --to invest in their dreams in this country, to create opportunities for all of us.


BUSH: And that's what we need to get to. And so as-- and the plan also includes a path to legal status. I have not seen anybody-- and I know there's disagreement here. Some of these people are angry about this and-- look, I kind of feel your pain. I was in Miami this morning. It was 70 degrees.

So the simple fact is-- the simple fact is there is no plan to deport 11 million people. We should give them a path to legal status, where they work, where they don't receive government benefits-- 


BUSH: --where they don't break the law, where they learn English and where they make a contribution to our society. That's what we need to be focused on.


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