Exclusive: Jeb Bush explains why he is running for president on 'Hannity'

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 16, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And welcome to "Hannity." And we are broadcasting from the Derry Opera House. We are in New Hampshire, where former Florida governor and now 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is set to address voters at a town hall event. He will be our guest for the entire hour. Now, it's his first interview since making his big announcement.

But first, here's how it all went down yesterday in beautiful Miami.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the next president of the United States of America, Jeb Bush!


JEB BUSH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The party now in the White House is planning a no-suspense primary for a no-change election to hold onto power, to slog on with the same agenda under another name.

You and I know that America deserves better! The question for me is, what am I going to do about it? And I've decided I'm a candidate for president of the United States of America!


BUSH: We don't need another president who merely holds the top spot among the pampered elites of Washington. We need a president willing to challenge and disrupt the whole culture in our nation's capital. And I will be that president!

I will campaign as I would serve, going everywhere, speaking to everyone, keeping my word, facing the issues without flinching and staying true to what I believe. I will take nothing and no one for granted. I will run with heart, and I will run to win!



HANNITY: And joining us now is former Florida governor and 2016 GOP presidential candidate, ladies and gentlemen of New Hampshire, welcome Governor Jeb Bush.


BUSH: Thank you. Thank you all.

HANNITY: Governor, in your speech yesterday, you said in 17 months, it is a time for choosing. The stakes are about as great they come. You said prosperity and security are in the balance. Our country is on a very bad course.

How bad is it? And how do you think you're best qualified to handle these challenges?

BUSH: Workforce participation, the lowest rate since the 1980 period, budget deficits as far as the eye can see. People are unemployed permanently, the highest level of poverty in a long while.

We're on the wrong track for sure. And then you look at the rest of the world, where we're no longer a dependable ally. Our friends no longer can trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us.

And so changing that direction, I think, is the first responsibility of the next president. And I have the leadership skills, I think, to make it possible to restore economic growth, lift people's spirits and secure America's position in the world, where we can create a more peaceful world.  And it's based on my life experience.

Look, I'm not -- I'm not a -- you know, I've done things. I've formed a business. I've lived overseas. And I've been a pretty extraordinarily good governor for eight years, at a time when you were rewarded for doing things. And I did them.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. A lot has been made over the fact that your campaign slogan, Jeb, exclamation...

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: You used that in 1994, though.

BUSH: Sure.

HANNITY: If you were to become president, it would be the first time in American history that three members of one family became the president of the United States, a very elite club, obviously.

You view your last name as a -- as a liability in some ways? Do you view it as helpful in some ways? And how are you different or similar to both your dad and your brother?

BUSH: Well, for starters, I'm blessed to be George and Barbara Bush's son. And long before people knew them, I was blessed because they've been extraordinary parents. All the mistakes I've made in my life -- and I've made a few, like we all do -- they're my own doing. I can't blame my parents because they gave me love. They taught me the virtues of -- that lead to a life of purpose and meaning.

And I love my brother, too. So look, I don't -- I don't sit on a couch and get all hung up about this. I'm blessed to be Jeb Bush. But I know if I'm going to be successful, I have to make my own way as a candidate. No one -- no one wins this by, you know, heredity. No one -- no one expects that. I don't expect it.

We've got 15 maybe people running for president of the United States, and the person that's going to win the Republican nomination's going to be the next president. And they're going to earn it. And that's what I intend to do.

HANNITY: Let me go over your Florida record. You vetoed $2 billion in spending. You cut taxes by $19 billion. You repealed the tax on investment. I think that's a double tax. You gave the country its first school voucher program when you were governor.

You ended affirmative action, stood up to Terri Schiavo, pro-life, 1.3 million jobs, 4.4 percent growth, eight balanced budgets. Why, when I read stories about you, are you having difficulty, so they tell us, with some conservatives? That is a conservative record.

BUSH: Well, Sean, first of all, I've been a candidate for less than 24 hours.



BUSH: So I've -- my mission now is to tell my story, to show my leadership skills because I was a reform-minded conservative. I did cut taxes every year. I balanced budgets every year.

When I left, there were $9 billion in reserves. When I started, it was close to a billion dollars. We reduced the state government workforce by 13,000. We were one of two states during my eight years to go to AAA bond rating.

And think of the United States today. We've actually -- the federal government's bond rating is AA. What a sorry state of affairs because we have runaway spending and huge budget deficits, and now the world no longer trusts the United States as being serious about dealing with its fiscal issues. So I reformed things that made it harder for people to rise up.

And the things I'm most proud of, by the way, is reforming our education system. We have -- we've had the greatest gains in learning in the United States, particularly with low-income kids.

If Republicans are going to win, we need to be for everybody, not just for those that have already made it. We have to be on the side of people that have high hopes for themselves and their children.

And today, we're creating barriers for people's aspirations. And my record of government, I think, shows the path of what could happen in Washington, D.C.

HANNITY: Based on that record, would you, if you became president -- do you hold the same values, the same principles on everything that I mentioned? Would you fight for the exact same things?

BUSH: Absolutely. Governments should grow no faster than people's ability to pay for it. In fact, personal income growth, family income should be the highest priority for the next president.

It's why I'm advocating creating a strategy to achieve 4 percent growth. If we grow at 2 percent, this so-called new normal that makes me queasy to even think about it, the demands on government will overwhelm us and will create perpetual poverty for those that are stuck in poverty and the middle will continue to be squeezed.

The great challenge for our country is to become young and dynamic and aspirational again. And that should be -- the lessons of Florida could be applied to Washington, D.C.

HANNITY: We just had a quarter of 0.7 negative ...

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: ... percent negative growth.

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: You have two quarters in a row, that is a recession. Here are the numbers because I think they're staggering.

The next president will inherit $20 trillion in debt, $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, 93 million Americans out of the labor force, nearly 50 million Americans in poverty and 46 million Americans on food stamps for 40 consecutive months.

That is a daunting problem. How would you address that?

BUSH: Well, first of all, it's heartbreaking.


BUSH: Put aside the politics of this, it's heartbreaking because if you're stuck in poverty or you're stuck in a sense you know your children are not going to have as much opportunity as you have, it's in your heart you feel this, then you can't dream big dreams. You're not -- you're not going to be able to live the kind of life that we want everybody to live.

So the challenge isn't so much a political one, it's to be on the side of people that want a better life. And we've proven -- the one thing that Barack Obama and I would say Hillary Clinton in their philosophy, the people of their ilk, have proven is that the progressive agenda run amok has failed.

No one could say that we haven't underfunded these programs. I mean, they've -- there's been an explosion of spending. And yet people believe we're still in a recession because they are. And yet people think we're on the wrong track because we are.

HANNITY: Could you get America to a balanced budget? Would you eliminate any government programs? You talked about raising the entitlement age for, I believe, Social Security. How do you get to the balanced budget like you had as governor in the state of Florida?

BUSH: Great question. First, 4 percent growth rather than 2 percent growth creates a -- far more than any exotic form of taxation. Mayor de Blasio or Hillary Clinton's views on taxation, I'm not sure what her plans are, but I'm guessing -- I can -- I'm just speculating that she's going to call for higher taxes.

HANNITY: I heard her speech over the weekend. Sounds like ...


BUSH: ... big tax increase. And all those -- no amount of taxes proposed like that will come close to high growth. If we create high growth, we start the papillon (ph) -- the process of rebalancing.

But we have to spend less. We have to spend less. And it's not just on so-called discretionary spending. The one place where I think we need to spend more is our military. We can -- we can reform how the military works. We can spend less with the hierarchy inside the Pentagon.

But we can't -- we can't cut with these sequesters, our military, to gut it, because no one -- even if -- even if we were strong as it relates to our word and we were engaged in the world, if we don't have a military that's the strongest and best supported and best trained troops, then we can't back it up.

HANNITY: Would you eliminate any government departments, Education, Commerce?

BUSH: I think you can shift -- in education, you can shift a lot of the -- a lot of the power back to the states. Certainly. as it relates to EPA, a lot of the delegated authority that used to exist should go back to the states. HHS -- we should -- we should create much less power in Washington for the delivery of health care and the regulation of health care and shift it back to the states.

There's a lot that you can do. And I think there are parts of the government that are no longer relevant inside of the Department of Commerce that does a lot of things that just don't relate to the 21st century.

So what I proved as governor was that you can cut spending and still prioritize towards the things that matter. And that kind of budget process should work.

By the way, I think we need budget reform in Washington. When you talk to people in Washington that have been there a long time and they start talking their language, it's like speaking, you know, French, which I don't ...


HANNITY: ... advocates and calculators there that it's unlike -- that that would put all of us in jail.

BUSH: In Washington, a budget grows like this. That's a flat -- that's the base budget.


BUSH: So if you -- if you cut it like that, it's still growing at 5 percent per year. That's a cut and that's outrageous. The world's coming to an end.

HANNITY: You want to eliminate baseline budgeting?

BUSH: I want to eliminate the budget that makes -- that's a sham, that only creates growing budget. What we need is a family budget for Washington, D.C. When you cut something, it means that you're spending less, not cut -- you know, instead of growing at 8 percent, grow at now 5 percent. That's not a cut. That's a 5 percent growth.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. You said as governor, there's no blending into the legislative crowd, you know, filing an amendment and calling that success. The nation learned in '08 that executive experience is another term for preparation.

Is that a shot at maybe some of your opponents that have legislative backgrounds, Senator Cruz, Senator Paul, Senator Rubio, who's a close friend of yours?

BUSH: Sure. Look, I would prefer to see the glass half-full. I was touting the fact that governors have to make decisions. Senators don't.  They can hide behind the collective body. I wasn't calling out any particular senator.

But the simple fact is governors have to balance budgets in this country, and they have to make decisions. And they have to do things that sometimes aren't popular. And they also have to bring people together to try to solve problems.

So put me in the category of that side of politics because I think it's the place where presidents need to be.

HANNITY: You're very close friends with Senator Marco Rubio.

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: Is this hard?

BUSH: It's a little awkward.


BUSH: I mean, look, he's a great guy. I admire him a lot. He's got a great family. And it's a little awkward when you have a good friend that's running for the same position. But that's just the way it is. It doesn't -- it doesn't bother me a bit. It's a ...

HANNITY: You'll be friends at the end of the process.

BUSH: Absolutely. And I'm friends with other people running, as well.

I don't -- I don't wake up each day all angry. It's not in my nature to be angry. I'm very hopeful and optimistic about our country. I honestly believe we're on the greatest -- we're in the greatest -- verge of the greatest time to be alive. I don't focus too much about what other people are saying or thinking.

I'm focusing on how I can lift people's spirits with a message of hope and optimism about the future and then give them a sense it's not just jibber-jabber. It's not just talking. I mean actually that I can do it, that I've done it as governor -- I can do it again.


HANNITY: Let me ask this question because Republicans voted all these times to repeal and replace "Obama care"...

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: ... somewhat symbolic votes. But when the moment came for them to use the constitutional authority, the power of the purse, they punted. They didn't want to be blamed for a shutdown.

Similarly, executive amnesty -- they said, Oh, we'll defund the Department of Homeland Security. They passed the cromnibus. They didn't stand by that promise. That's your party.

BUSH: Yes. Well, look...

HANNITY: What is your -- what is your take on them?

BUSH: I think Washington's dysfunctional. That's my take.  Washington is not working. We need a Republican president, and we can get those things solved.

HANNITY: We'll take a break. We're just getting things started.  Governor Jeb Bush will be with us for the entire hour tonight as we continue.


HANNITY: Coming up next -- watch this.


BUSH: This supposedly risk-averse administration is also running us straight in the direction of the greatest risk of all, military inferiority. It will go on automatically until a president steps in to rebuild our armed forces and take care of our troops and our veterans!


BUSH: And they have my word I will do it!


HANNITY: What would Governor Bush's foreign policy agenda look like if he's elected president? That's coming up next.

And later, we want you, our viewers, to get in on the action. You've been sending us questions on Facebook and Twitter. We'll ask Governor Bush some of those later in the program as we continue from New Hampshire straight ahead.



BUSH: This supposedly risk-averse administration is also running us straight in the direction of the greatest risk of all, military inferiority. It will go on automatically until a president steps in to rebuild our armed forces and take care of our troops and our veterans!


BUSH: And they have my word I will do it!



BUSH: We keep dependable friends in this world by being dependable ourselves. I will rebuild our vital friendships, and that starts by standing with the brave democratic state of Israel.



HANNITY: That was former governor Jeb Bush yesterday, talking about the dangers that we face abroad, thanks to the Obama administration's failed foreign policies. And Governor Bush also stressed the importance of having -- the U.S. have a strong relationship with Israel. He's back now to explain more.

You've basically laid out enemies unnamed, friends undefended. You talk about a disastrous foreign policy. What's wrong? How do you fix it?

BUSH: Well, look, the president creates a strawman. He says that anybody that doesn't agree with him is a warmonger. The simple fact is that we've had a bipartisan consensus in foreign policy since the end of World War II, and it was American leadership that created peace and security and did it in alliance with our friends.

And so if you look at the world today, think of a country where our relations are better today than they were the day that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton took office.

HANNITY: You -- you ...

BUSH: And there's only -- it's a question.

HANNITY: Oh, you're asking me the question.

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: All right, you be the host.


BUSH: I give you two.

HANNITY: I -- I can't think of a place.

BUSH: Iran and Cuba.

HANNITY: Better?

BUSH: Yes. Our relations with them are better under Barack Obama.  In all the rest of the world, our relations are worse.

HANNITY: Well said. Now I get your point. You know, the president said about ...

BUSH: You got me nervous there!


HANNITY: The president -- the president said ISIS was -- all right, beat up the host. We love that.

He said ISIS was a JV team, and he said about Iran, Iran, that country's tiny. They're not a threat. He's now negotiating a possibility where he admits in 11 years, there would be zero breakout time for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

BUSH: Exactly. It's the wrong approach, and I was -- I was pleased to see Senator Corker today send a letter to the president saying, Stop unilaterally giving things away. Stay with what your objective was three or four years ago, which we've long ago moved away from.

The Iranians play us like a Stradivarius violin. They just keep waiting and waiting until the deadlines, and then we concede, and we're going to end up with Iran being a nuclear threshold state. And that is going to create danger not just in the region, but that -- that already exists.

HANNITY: If you're president and they're on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon, do you feel the United States would need to act to prevent it?

BUSH: You should never take the military option off the table.

HANNITY: Let me ask you. You talked about lectures on the Crusades and the president also talked about terrible deeds in the name of Jesus Christ, but he'll never say "radical Islam." What do you make of that?

BUSH: I don't know. It's -- it's -- it's kind of bizarre, to be honest with you, to moral -- to create moral equivalence between our faith, which is a freedom-loving, peaceful faith, and the hijacking of Islam through the -- in the form of these radical terrorists.

And call it for what it is. And if you call it for what it is, create a strategy then to take it out. We don't have a strategy as it relates to ISIS. We are reacting to events on the ground, and little by little, doing things, some of which are good. There have been some successes in -- in using drones to take out terrorists. I'm -- I'm all for that.

But we need a strategy to -- to tighten the noose around them. And we need it -- we need to do it not just unilaterally, we need to do it with -- with the -- with the nations of the neighborhood. And our relations, back to this very basic point...


BUSH: ... our relations now with the countries that we should count on to create a coalition because it's in their interest to take out ISIS, as well, is at an all-time low, the relationships with Turkey, with Egypt, Jordan ...

HANNITY: Jordan.

BUSH: ... is, you know, strongly ...

HANNITY: Saudi Arabia.

BUSH: And certainly the Persian Gulf countries. We need to rebuild those relationships for our own national security.

HANNITY: I know that you answered the question, knowing what you know now about Iraq ...

BUSH: Do we have to talk about that again?

HANNITY: No, no, no, we don't. But I actually think that's the wrong question. We lost nearly 5,000 men and many others shed their blood ...

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: ... and lost their limbs in the Iraq War. And now the cities they fought, bled and died for, Ramadi, Fallujah, Mosul, Tikrit ...

BUSH: Exactly.

HANNITY: Have been taken over by ISIS. I think the question is, knowing what we know now, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, was it wrong to pull out early?

BUSH: Look, I think -- I think the lessons of history are important for anybody. We can -- we can live in the past or we can learn from the past to be able to lead in the future. And I think the lessons of history are the United States needs to be engaged in the world. Imagine what it would be like if we just decided to leave -- leave Germany after -- you know, after World War II.

HANNITY: World War II.

BUSH: Or we decided, the Korean War's over, OK, we're going home. We would have had chaos.

HANNITY: Still there.

BUSH: And we're still there, and it's created peace and prosperity for ourselves and for our friends. And that's the lesson. It's not that we're -- we have to be the world's policeman, but we have to lead. But for us, who? Who is going to -- to create a more peaceful world if we don't lead?

And that's -- that -- that is what I think that the president has missed. And frankly, Hillary Clinton was secretary of state for four years. It's like we don't even hear about this anymore.

HANNITY: Oh, I have a lot of questions about her.

BUSH: But she was there for four years.


BUSH: And -- and she was part of this. And I think it's the wrong approach, and it is out of the mainstream of thinking that has existed for the last 50 years in our country.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this. You -- you said the -- Vladimir Putin was a bully who needed to be restrained. We just had China hack into our government computers, some 4 million people. They've been able to hack into it. They have their own territorial ambitions.

How do you deal with this emerging threat of Putin, Ukraine, the bully that you called him? How do you deal with China hacking into our government computers and their -- and them pursuing their territorial ambitions? What is America's role?

BUSH: Look, we need to -- we need to confront China and engage with them at the same time because they're all -- they're a threat, but they're also -- they also -- you know, we benefit from economic activity with them, as well. It's a lot more complex. But we can't pull back and expect them not to continue to move forward.

As it relates to Russia, it's clear. I just got back from Germany and Poland and Estonia, and there's a -- there's a yearning for American leadership there because they see the direct threat that exists, particularly in Estonia and Poland, where it is not just something to talk about, they see the threat each and every day of -- of -- of Russian planes flying or telling vessels no longer to lay cable from Sweden to Lithuania.

They want the United States to be engaged. We should forward lean.  We should provide defensive weapons for the Ukraine. We should make it clear if Russia continues to do what it's been doing ...

HANNITY: That's good advice.

BUSH: ... that their -- missile defense in Poland, for sure. And we should also have -- we should -- we should -- you know, state what our -- what the sanction policy will be going forward if Russia acts.

And that's how you -- that's how you detain Putin. If you do nothing and you pull back and you create uncertainty, he will continue to move forward.

HANNITY: Yes, I -- I don't have enough time in this segment to get back to Israel, but I know you want to repair the relationship. Just quick yes or nos. Gitmo remain open?

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: If we need it, enhanced interrogation?

BUSH: I don't think that's necessary.

HANNITY: You don't? Why?

BUSH: Because I don't think we need it.


BUSH: I don't think we need it. It's not the law.

HANNITY: If -- maybe after 9/11?

BUSH: I think it was appropriate at the time, given what we -- you know, the uncertainty. We were under attack. I think it was appropriate.  It was also appropriate to change the policies once -- once -- once we had enough history.

HANNITY: We'll continue, coming up next tonight, right here on "Hannity."


BUSH: With North American resources and American ingenuity, we can finally achieve energy security for this nation. And with presidential leadership, we can make it happen within five years!



HANNITY: When we come back, former Florida governor Jeb Bush explains how he will fix America's economy. Also, we'll ask him some of your questions, and his thoughts on his potential opponent, Hillary Clinton, as "Hannity" continues tonight from New Hampshire.


BUSH: In this country of ours, the most improbable things can happen, as well. Take that from a guy who met his first president on the day he was born and his second on the day he was brought home from the hospital.






BUSH: Campaigns aren't easy, and they're not supposed to be. And I know that there are a lot of good people running for president -- quite a few, in fact. And not one of us deserves the job by right of resume, party, seniority, family or family narratives. It's nobody's turn. It's everybody's test. And it's wide open, exactly as a contest for president should be!



HANNITY: As we continue from New Hampshire, we continue with 2016 presidential candidate, former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

You said about the Democrats that this is a no-nonsense, no-surprise, no-suspense primary, and the presidency should not be handed down from one liberal to the next. Here's my question. Would you view a Hillary Clinton presidency as a third Barack Obama term?

BUSH: In many ways, I do. If you listen to her talk, she has embraced the progressive agenda. She believes that -- you know, she's -- she's already starting the rhetoric of dividing the country, rather than lifting our spirits. She doesn't talk about the kind of economic growth that would create meaningful income rises for the middle. She talks about more government programs.

Her -- look, she's a formidable candidate, and she is -- she's going to be tough, no question about it. But the simple fact is that we need -- we need a dramatic change if we're going to grow economically, where people can have disposable income to decide what they want to do. And I think the stark difference will be clear. And I think a conservative can win in 2016 if we're hopeful and optimistic rather than reactionary to how bad things are. We offer a compelling alternative to the path --

HANNITY: Solutions?

BUSH: Solutions. Solutions on taxes, on regulation, which is now stifling the ability for investment in our own country, dealing in an honest way with our entitlement challenges, embracing the energy revolution in our midst.

HANNITY: Look at North Dakota.

BUSH: Look at the possibility of being energy secure in five years which we could do with Canada, Mexico, and the United States. And the ability then to project America's presence in the world in a completely different way, this is huge.

And yet the left wants to push those aspirations down. They want to divide ups. They want us to be increasingly dependent upon government rather than lift people up. And I think we have a case that we can make for people that are stuck in poverty. I think Republicans that are successful ought to challenge the orthodoxy of our education system that is just holding people back, challenging the job training programs that are holding people back, a regulatory system that makes it harder for an entrepreneur in the inner city to even start a business.

HANNITY: And 57 percent of Americans do not find Hillary Clinton honest and trustworthy. Do you think she is honest and trustworthy?

BUSH: I think she needs to answer questions just like I'm going to do in about 30 minutes.


BUSH: I think she needs to do the exact same thing that candidates running for president do -- talk to the press, be open. Look, I'm going to make mistakes, I can guarantee you that. But I'm not going to hide from people that don't agree with me. And if there are people in the press, I'm going to say I'm sorry, you can't come. I'm sorry I'm not going to answer questions. I'm only going to answer the questions I already know what the question is. That's ridiculous. And that's what she's done.

HANNITY: Did you invite all these people?

BUSH: I hope I did.


BUSH: I don't think I did, though. Based on my previous experience I'm pretty sure I didn't.

HANNITY: What do you make when you hear the news about Benghazi that they knew the night of the attack that it was a terror attack or the missing e-mails, 30 plus thousand, the server that was swiped clean? Saudi Arabia they took money from, she's never criticized their treatment of women, which is atrocious. Do you think they bought their silence? Or Sweden that was able to buy an opening when she was secretary of state, they give $26 million to the Clinton Foundation, and they got a pass in terms of not being part of the sanctions against Iran?

BUSH: Look, Benghazi will become clear. Trey Gowdy is going to get to the bottom of it. And it will be done in a fair way and she'll be held to account and so will the administration.

As it relates to all these other things, that's what campaigns are about. I have been scrutinized like nobody's business. And I'm sure it will continue on. That's fine, that's fair. As long as I get a fair chance to, you know, explain the things --

HANNITY: That's why I'm a talk show host. We don't get scrutiny.

BUSH: Exactly. She needs to have the same level of scrutiny that everybody else has. And if that happens people then can make up their own minds.

HANNITY: She's been in the public. She was talking about their yesterday. And I'm listening, I'm like, how many years have you been in the public eye? Can you name in a serious way one specific Hillary accomplishment, or what would you say that's good about her?

BUSH: She's smart. I think she's smart. I think she loves her country. I don't ascribe bad motives for people that I don't agree with.  But as a senator, I think she passed -- she has her name on three laws in eight years. And as secretary of state, in all honesty, the things she's known for, the reset, the pulling back of our commitments, Libya, put aside Benghazi, Libya in general, it turns out it was a complete failure.


BUSH: All of these things haven't worked out. I honestly don't know what her successes are. I know she's smart. I know she's tough. I'm not discounting her ability to be a good candidate. But her record of accomplishment compared to a governor who cut taxes every year and reduced the state government workforce, went to AAA bond rating because we were frugal and we had fiscal integrity, created an environment -- I didn't create it, but created an environment of 1.3 million jobs more than any other state other than California. I'll put that record up against Hillary Clinton's any day of the week.

HANNITY: All right, we'll take a break. We'll come back. More with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, now presidential candidate, from New Hampshire.



BUSH: My life began in many ways when I was in Leon Guanajuato, Mexico, where I met my life. It was love at first sight. For the young guys here, it does happen. Trust me.



HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." We are in New Hampshire with 2016 GOP presidential candidate, former Florida governor Jeb Bush. All right, at CPAC when I had an opportunity to interview you, I asked you a series of questions on immigration, two issues that come up time and again as it relates to conservatives. Donald Trump took you up in a speech today about Common Core and immigration. I want to ask you --


BUSH: I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that.


HANNITY: You agreed in that interview to secure the border first when we were discussing it at CPAC. What does that mean to you?

BUSH: It means making sure that people -- that coming here legally is easier than coming illegally, that we create a system where we have enhanced border security, that we have a system using technology in every means possible to deal with 40 percent of illegal immigrants that are here who came with a legal visa and just stayed, a great nation for all sorts of reasons, national security reasons, and many need to know where those folks are. We ought to delegate authority to local and state law enforcement.

HANNITY: A secure border first means before you do these any of these other things, does that mean you will secure the border and then address these other issues?

BUSH: I think we need to do both. But the first priority has to be we have to create a secure border. If we had a guest worker program along with securing the border, there would be people coming seasonally coming to do the work in the fields and other things that are essentially for our economy and then go back home. If we don't have that, if we don't have a guest worker program, then people are stuck here and they stay here illegally.

I think a system that allows for both but the first priority being border security. And I would add, this is something that I've advocated that hasn't gotten enough news, I think, which is we ought to delegate more authority to local law enforcement on this. We have, you know, 20,000 border patrol agents. But there's a lot of places in this country where the eye and ears and the trained professionals at the local and state level can't do anything about people that are here illegally. And I think by having the proper training and expanding the authority we could create a much better and more secure --

HANNITY: At one point you supported a path to citizenship.

BUSH: Yes.

HANNITY: You really -- now you're saying a path to residency, no citizenship if you didn't respect our laws and sovereignty?

BUSH: Yes. The plan that I proposed, and it's there for anybody that wants to read it. It's called "Immigration Wars." It's a book, you know, that I put out a couple years ago with Clint Bolick. The plan says you earn legal status. You get a provisional work permit. You don't receive government assistance. You pay a fine. You learn English. You don't receive any federal government assistance. And you work, you don't commit crimes. And over an extended period of time you earn legal status. You don't cut in front of someone who has been patiently waiting --

HANNITY: Legal status but not citizenship.

BUSH: Exactly.

HANNITY: OK. Would you repeal Obama's executive amnesty?

BUSH: Yes, I would. And I would replace it with one that recognized if you came here as a child and your parents came illegally, I think we should treat the child a little different than the person who came illegally. I think that's the American way. So yesterday in my speech I got protested by the so called Dream act kids. And I think we ought to fix that for people that have been here for long period of time. I don't if they liked what I said or not, but they thankfully left in the midst -- they stepped on my beautiful line of my mother which was the only part I didn't like about the --

HANNITY: All right, let me ask you about Common Core, because that's the other issue. You pointed out in a speech Shanghai is number one in reading, number one in math. We are 21 in reading, the United States, we are 31 in math. I got a note from an opponent of Common Core and said "Please ask the governor, it's never been field tested. It's not evidence based. It's top down," meaning government heavy. And she -- and you said you would stand strong on Common Core. Can you explain to the parents that are against it what Common Core actually means to you and what it means for the states, et cetera?

BUSH: Common Core standards are standards in reading and math, not anything else. They're higher in most cases than all but a handful of states. And I think it ought to be state driven. In fact if I was elected president I would work with Congress if it's not already done, because there's the reauthorization of the K-12 law will hopefully pass, that will prohibit direct or indirect involvement by the federal government in the creation of content, curriculum, or standards. This should be a local and state issue, not a federal issue.

HANNITY: It's really not Common Core. As much as you're saying the states should --

BUSH: And 45 states voluntarily came together with these standards.  That's the commonality. It's not --

HANNITY: And you would let them set their own --

BUSH: Yes. If New Hampshire wants to create local standards, which they do here, I don't have a problem with that. What I want is higher standards. And, frankly, standards by themselves are meaningless unless you have school choice, more accountability, a different consequence between failure. Parents whose kids are trapped in failed schools ought to be given other options public and private.

HANNITY: You want national vouchers?

BUSH: I want states to decide that. But I would take the federal money that goes to the states right now. If New Hampshire want to create a state wide voucher program, Title One money ought to run with that child.

HANNITY: We've got to take a break. When we come back we'll have more with Governor Jeb Bush as we continue from New Hampshire straight ahead.



HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity" as we continue with former Florida governor Jeb Bush. We are in New Hampshire. All right, this is a short segment, lightning round. I just want you to give one-word answers that come to you. Rand Paul?

BUSH: Libertarian.

HANNITY:  OK. Marco Rubio?

BUSH: Good friend.

HANNITY: Donald Trump?

BUSH: Rich guy.


HANNITY: OK. Ted Cruz?

BUSH: Very smart. Fiery.

HANNITY: Carly Fiorina?

BUSH: Really talented.

HANNITY: Scott Walker?

BUSH: A fighter.

HANNITY: Rick Perry?

BUSH: A real Texan.


HANNITY: John Kasich?

BUSH: Smart guy, too. Look, all these guys, they are my friends.  It's hard to say anything bad about them. I really admire the people that are running for president.

HANNITY: Are you confident this won't get personal with so many people in this race, and some shots are going back and forth between the campaigns already?

BUSH: People love the horse race. The press loves to comment on comments and try to interpret them as being attacks. We'll see. It's very competitive, and my guess is it's like playing basketball without a referee, maybe. A couple of elbows under the boards.

HANNITY:  I've had experience with that with my son.


HANNITY: Gay marriage?

BUSH: I believe in traditional marriage. I hope the Supreme Court rules that way. I think it's been a solid element of our foundation. I don't think we should discriminate based on sexual preferences.


BUSH: Traditional marriage should be the foundation of a just society.

HANNITY: You are prolife?

BUSH: I'm totally prolife.

HANNITY: No exceptions, rape, incest?


BUSH: I believe that there should be exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. But when I was governor I was the most prolife governor in the state's history.

HANNITY: Colorado, pot?

BUSH: States ought to decide this, but I think it's an incredibly slippery slope, and I think the health damages to this are very, very dangerous.

HANNITY: Should citizens if they are law abiding, no records, have the right to carry a weapon?

BUSH: Absolutely. In Florida, you know who leads the nation in concealed weapons permits by far?


BUSH: Over a million. It's Florida. And it creates a more -- less violent society. And crime goes down when law abiding citizens that don't commit crimes have guns.

HANNITY: Does climate change, everyone, the president says the science is in. It's all been determined. Are you there? Where are you on climate change?

BUSH: I think there's a debate about that. I do think the great story is that we've reduced our carbon footprint not because of anything government has done. We've reduced it because of American ingenuity and American know-how being applied to increase the natural gas consumption in this country that's reduced carbon emissions.

HANNITY: I have a Facebook question from Charlie Weiss. Can you be different from your father and brother?

BUSH: Sure, absolutely. My fingerprint is different. My life experience is different. I started my life journey in a different way. I went to the University of Texas. I graduated in two years. I fell in love with a --

HANNITY: Two years?

BUSH: Yes. It's possible, guys, I promise you.


HANNITY: All right, we've got to take a break. Our final segment coming up with Governor Jeb Bush right after this break.


HANNITY: We continue with former Florida governor Jeb Bush in New Hampshire as he's about to do a town hall. Governor, we have given every candidate we've had on the show a final 45 seconds to make your pitch to the American people.

BUSH: I'm a reform-minded conservative that led the state of Florida, a purple state, in a direction applying conservative values that made life better for everybody, not just those who have already made it. And I think we can apply those same principles in Washington with the proper leadership. And this should be the most extraordinary time to be alive.  We should be the world's superpower economically, and we should be the leader in the world as it relates to foreign policy, and we're not right now. If we change directions our children and grandchildren are going to have opportunities of abundance.

HANNITY: All right, ladies and gentlemen, Governor Bush.

BUSH: Thank you, Sean.


HANNITY: Thank you, governor.

BUSH: Thank you.

HANNITY: That is all the time we have left this evening. Thank you for being with us. We'll see you back here tomorrow night.

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