Jeb Bush, taxes in focus as 2016 race begins to take shape

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," March 20, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: A presidential run hitting a snag before it even gets going at all? Because if Jeb Bush isn`t ruling out hiking taxes as part of the deal to balance the budget, GOP pollster Chris Wilson says that could rule him out for a lot of Republicans who demand he honor that.

What do you think of that? He is just saying that he can`t make an unequivocal statement like that now. You`re saying that -- that hurts him with whom?

CHRIS WILSON, CEO, WILSON RESEARCH STRATEGIES, INC.: With pretty much all Republican primary voters. You played his dad`s clip from before. You wonder if Jeb Bush`s saying is going to be, read my lips, yes new taxes.

What Jeb Bush has got to decide, whether he wants to take positions that are in line with the Republican Party or contrary to the Republican Party. And the challenge is, when you take it from Common Core to immigration to now on taxes, he continues to take positions that are contrary to most Republican primary voters.

We already have a high tax party. It`s called the Democratic Party, and they do a very good job of trying to push taxes every -- every step of the way, and they do a very good job of promising not to raise taxes. The last candidate who -- the last nominee who promised to raise taxes was Walter Mondale, and he lost 49 states. That is not what I would call a strategy for winning.

CAVUTO: But he didn`t say he would raise them. And his record eight years as a Florida governor, they cut taxes, cut a lot of rules, regulations, something that is near and dear to the conservative community, cut spending, balanced budgets.

I know governors are required in most states to do that, but he does have a record that would seem to support a lot of things that conservatives support.

WILSON: He does.

And from that standpoint, I would suggest that he would be better off running on his record than he would taking stands that are contrary to that record. And when you come out and say I will not take a stand or not promise to -- not to raise taxes, then that causes Republican primary voters to hear that he wants to raise taxes.

And it`s a very simple stand to take. It`s why most Republicans who run for president and run for higher office agree to sign the Norquist American tax reform pledge to not raise taxes. It is one that Republicans hold near and dear to their heart and it`s one that it`s very difficult to win a primary, I can tell you, as a pollster, if you take a stand where you refuse to say you won`t raise taxes.

And that`s what Bush is doing here -- and it`s just -- it`s the wrong approach strategically, no matter how you look at it and no matter what his record in the past may have been.

CAVUTO: No, it`s an interesting point, because others in the conservative community have expressed that view.

Do you think it hurts him more, though, in Iowa than it does in a more -- I don`t want to call it a purple state, but a state like New Hampshire, for example?

WILSON: Well, you know, the funny thing is taxes really is one of the strongest issues in New Hampshire, but I would say, yes, even so in Iowa.

Iowa tends to be more of a social issue voting state.

CAVUTO: Right.

WILSON: Witness Rick Santorum winning it four years ago.

CAVUTO: Good point.

WILSON: But, from a standpoint of caring about taxes, it`s really one that hits all four parts of the Republican Party. Establishment Republicans are against it. Evangelicals are against it. Tea Party voters are against it and libertarians are certainly against it.

And, again, to take a stand that I will not promise not to raise taxes is almost to imply that Barack Obama has not raised taxes enough, that we need to take taxes even higher or that we will consider taking taxes higher. And most, if not all Republicans and most Americans believe that today we`re taxed too much.

CAVUTO: All right.

WILSON: Americans still believe, like Ronald Reagan said, government is too big and government spends too much.

CAVUTO: Chris Wilson, thank you.

WILSON: Thank you.

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