Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush broke from the potential Republican 2016 pack Friday in New Hampshire when instead of an eager endorsement, he said the Republican senators signed their controversial letter to Iran “out of frustration.”
“There’s been no dialogue, no conversation, there’s been a stifling of debate about the properness of this negotiation,” Bush said.
Bush would not say if he would have signed the letter, adding that he’s “not a senator,” though Gov. Bobby Jindal signed on and Gov. Scott Walker and former Gov. Rick Perry said they supported the letter.
Bush said the “best way” for the Senate to sound off on the issue is by supporting a bill introduced by Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the foreign relations committee. That bill would give Congress a say in approving an eventual deal the Obama administration might broker with Iran over its nuclear program.
One comparison Bush drew, however, was between the open letter the 47 Republican senators drafted to Iran’s leaders and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Syria under his brother’s presidency. Both moves undercut the administration’s foreign policy aims at the time.
“I do think that we need to get back to a bipartisan consensus on foreign policy,” Bush said, adding that division on foreign policy sends the wrong “signal” to the world.
But he put the onus on Obama to “get back to regular order” on restoring that consensus.
“The president has a responsibility I think to take the first step on these things and he hasn’t,” Bush said.
And speaking three days after Hillary Clinton answered questions over her use of a personal email address housed on a private server, Bush pushed back at attempts to compare Clinton’s email woes to his use of a personal email server.
“Not surprised that the Clinton operatives would suggest that,” he said. “That’s kind of standard operating procedure.”
Bush, who made public hundreds of thousands of emails, said he had has “nothing to hide” and said he and his aides have been “totally transparent” in the process. Bush’s aides, like Clinton’s, parsed through the governor’s emails to decide which to release publicly.