When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, his slogan was “Jeb can fix it.”
Nearly five years later, the Republican sees a “divided country” whose “sense of shared values has been tattered at the seams,” and he sees the Democratic President-elect presented an opportunity to mend the national fabric, as he said on a podcast released Wednesday.
“Assuming for a moment that it is President-elect Joe Biden,” Bush continued, “there are things he could do almost immediately to begin to heal the wounds, to reach out across the aisle politically.”
“Even before his inauguration,” Bush added, Biden is almost “duty bound” to take those steps toward remediation.
“The people who may not agree with him don’t have to be considered the enemy,” he said, perhaps mindful of the dismissive posture current President Donald Trump took toward Bush, a former primary rival he christened “Low-Energy Jeb.”
“The closeness of the election makes that possible. If the Republicans do control the Senate,” Bush said, “assuming it’s 51 or 52 to 48 with Republicans in control, I think Mitch McConnell has the responsibility and Joe Biden has the responsibility to find some common ground.”
That common ground, Bush suggested, could be driven by a “center-left and center-right” coalition, a theoretical grouping of moderate or anti-Trump Republicans and a few Democrats chasing votes in red states. Bush name-checked a few Senators, but neither Sens. Rick Scott nor Marco Rubio made the cut there.
“We’ve got to put our country first,” Bush added. “This isn’t always about some hyperpartisan game we’re playing.”
“We have to have a sense of shared values for our country to work,” Bush continued. “Our diversity requires it.”
The former Governor lauded Biden for his “empathy,” and for his part, Biden has promised, repeatedly, to represent those who voted for him and those who didn’t.
Bush congratulated Biden on his victory before virtually all other Republicans of note, saying that he was praying for the presumptive President-elect.