WASHINGTON –Â If there were any doubts that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has no intention of returning to a ballot anytime soon, he laid them to rest Friday, in a rare appearance at a congressional hearing.
The Republican former governor was invited to speak to the House Budget Committee by the committeeâ€™s chairman, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., author of a federal budget despised by Democrats in part for its proposed changes to the Medicare program for seniors. Bushâ€™s remarks focused on removing barriers to free enterprise, but throughout the hearing, he was free with his opinions on all sorts of other policy matters.
“This will prove Iâ€™m not running for anything,” Bush said, when talking about how he could support a bipartisan commission to examine the tax code for loopholes. He also noted that he thought immigration reform could be a strategy for sustained economic growth â€” a position that he said puts him “a little out of step with my own party.”
Bushâ€™s candor made it clear that he sees his place as a senior Republican whose opinions carry a lot of weight in his party, but whose private sector life gives him a measure of independence. In Washington, that ability to speak freely makes him a refreshing figure. He was followed out of the hearing to his taxi by a throng of reporters so deep that, in the crush, one camerawoman tumbled backward in the hallway of the Cannon Office Building.
No, Bush told the scrum, heâ€™s not interested in being vice president.
“Iâ€™m going to support Gov. Romney, heâ€™s a great guy,” Bush said. “I believe he has an excellent chance of being elected. Iâ€™m going to do what I can to (help him) be elected.”
But from the window of his taxi, Bush said he does think highly of his friend Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for the job.
“That would be my choice, but Iâ€™m not Mitt Romney,” Bush said. “Marco would bring an incredible energy, heâ€™s the most articulate spokesman for conservative principles I think in America today, and heâ€™s my friend. So Iâ€™m a little biased. But I think he would be extraordinary.”
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