Jeb Bush said he would not make the same mistakes as Mitt Romney during a private event in New York on Thursday, saying the 2012 Republican nominee was unable to connect with voters in a genuine way.

"[Romney] made it about a referendum on the president's policies rather than about himself. He didn't show his heart," said the former governor of Florida. "He didn't send a signal that he cared about people, when he did."

The potential 2016 candidate made the remarks during a private question-and-answer session with high school students at the Ramaz School, where he was marking the celebration of Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day.

"A lot of it is just connecting on a human level with people, not being behind some protective shield," said Bush. "Campaigning in a way where you're outside your own comfort zone. Taking questions, not having it all scripted out, not having it all part of some narrative that producers made. Be more spontaneous."

Bush also sought to distinguish himself from his potential Republican competitors, saying he would not compromise his values in order to win a primary campaign.

"I know how to win a primary, I think. But the easy way to win a primary is the hard way to win a general. So you have to be true yourself," he said.

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