Jeb Bush: Thank you you so much. Thank you all for coming out at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon. It’s not the, not the optimum time for a town hall meeting. But today was gonna be the day that I was gonna break the record for the most town halls in a single day. We were gonna do five. Unfortunately, we ran into a tragic event. Corporal Andrew Aimesbury, who lives in Dover, lived in Dover, was killed in a training exercise, training to be an Army Ranger in Georgia. And his funeral took place this morning at the same time we were gonna do our event. So this was to have been our fourth town hall meeting.
It’s, it’s our third but I’m honored to be here. And before we start, I think it would be appropriate to ask for a moment of silence to pray for the families that who lost their love one, who was preparing to serve us with incredible honor and distinction. Thank you. When I went to the wake yesterday to pay my respects to the family of Andrew, I, I saw 20 Army Rangers all dressed up. Big, strong, strapping young men that are preparing and training to protect us. And our hat should go off to them. We should be focused on how do we provide the necessary support for these young men and women to keep us safe. Because they wanna do that.
They wanna know that a commander in chief has their back. They wanna know that when they go into battle they have the best equipment possible to be able to do their job effectively. They wanna know that the next President of the United States will rebuild the military in terms of spending, will make the necessary investment in the 21st Century military war fighting. They wanna know that the lawyers are gonna be taken off the backs of the war fighters, because today that is the case. This President has actually put so many restrictions on top of the war fighters that the policy of containment as it relates to ISIS in the Middle East. It’s a policy that we lose each and every day. ISIS is not contained when they can take acts of terror in Paris or San Bernardino or just take out a plane in the Sinai.
They’re not being contained. And even if they were contained, the simple fact is that is not the appropriate policy. Every day that they exist is a victory for Islamic terrorism. And a defeat for people like us that believe in freedom. Every day that they exit they can recruit additional people all around the world including the United States to take advantage of our freedom which they believe is our weakness. We need a strategy to destroy ISIS. And I laid out a plan in August at the Reagan Library to do just that. And it takes for example, arming the Kurds directly.
Embedding our troops, 3,500 troops are in Iraq right now, embedding some of those troops inside the Iraq military, reengaging with the Sunni tribal leaders that were a part of the successful surge that created a fragile but secure Iraq on the day that Barack Obama was elected President. Creating a safe zone, a series of safe zones in Syria so that the poor million refugees that exist in these camps and now going to Europe, we won't create a breeding ground for Islamic terrorism for the next generations. We allow, we would allow a safe harbor for them and allow us to build a Sunni-led force of moderate Muslims that would do the job of leading the country in a post-ISIS and post-Assad world.
It means a no fly zone so the brutality of the Assad regime stops barrel bombing innocent people to the tune of now close to 300,000 people. The insecurity that exists there is a direct threat to our national security. And I laid out this plan. Getting the lawyers off the backs of the war fighters, funding, taking away the funding stream for ISIS. It is a complex challenge but a detailed plan is necessary and someone that has the fortitude and will to carry it out. Donald Trump’s idea is, two months ago, he says that ISIS is not our fight. Really? Islamic terrorism is not a threat to the United States?
Tell that to the family members of the people in San Bernardino. Donald Trump says he gets his foreign policy and military advice from the shows. Really? The commander in chief, someone who is aspiring to be the President of the United States, just turns on the television on Sunday morning and thinks that’s enough to be able to lead this extraordinary country. Donald Trump is all excited that Vladimir Putin thinks he’s a good man. And he rewards Vladimir Putin with praise as well. Really? A man who believes that the United States is in decline and takes every step forward while we step back is a hero of Donald Trump’s. Really?
He’s not a serious person. He’s a chaotic candidate which creates all sorts of fun entertainment for people, but he would be a chaotic President of the United States. We need someone who has a steady hand, who has plans to keep us safe. And here’s my commitment to you. I will be a commander in chief, not a divider in chief or an agitator in chief. I will lead this country to a more secure place where we can get to the business of creating prosperity again for our great country. And as it relates to the economy, there’s much to be done. Hillary Clinton has given Barack Obama an A, not just a passing grade an A.
You know, maybe she plays this on the curve perhaps I don't know. An A, really? Is an A when you have one in 10 people that are unemployed or given up work looking for work altogether? Is it an A when workforce participation rates are lower than they were in the 1970’s. It can't be an A when one in seven people are living in poverty. 6 million more people in poverty today than the day that Barack Obama got elected. And it’s certainly not an A when one in five children is on food stamps.
And that more businesses are closing than being formed. And the disposable income, the great, the great identifier of prosperity where we stand, median income is down $2,300 than the day that Barack Obama was elected. $2,300 in Washington may not be a lot where you have lifetime protection. You know, you basically get wage increases for showing up. You have more benefits than the private sector. People may not be concerned in Washington because they don’t have declines in their income. But $2,300 across the board for this great country means that maybe a child won’t be able to go get quality daycare or, or maybe they won't be able to go to college, or maybe you can't buy a car, or maybe you can't save for a rainy day.
Or maybe you have a mom that has dementia and you can’t, and you’re the caregiver and you can't take respite care, take days off to be able to provide support. Or maybe you can't take a vacation. Whatever it is $2,300 a year is a whole lot of money. The next President has to fix this mess. And it starts with changing the culture in Washington D.C. Here’s what I believe, I believe we need a balanced budget amendment to force the conversation back to where it needs to be, where government doesn’t grow faster than our ability to pay for it. We need term limits. In Florida, we have term limits.
I have some friends here in the crowd today. It works. We have talented people that get a chance to take leadership roles where the permanent political class has to take a step back. We need to make sure that the lobbyist don’t control everything. If you finish your term of service as elected official, you shouldn’t take, go out the back door and start lobbying your, the people that you were serving with the day before. There should be a six year ban on elected officials lobbying. We ought to make sure that there’s total transparency to make sure that people have confidence that their government is the servant rather than the master. I know how to do this 'cause I was Governor of the state of Florida where I had a chance to take these ideas, work with the legislature, turn the place upside down. But the net result was, we had a lot better government. We did reform lobbying. We do have term limits.
We balance budgets each and every year totaling, totaling leaving reserves of $9 billion, more than 35 percent of general revenue. They called me Veto Corleone 'cause I vetoed 2,200 separate line items in the budget. Not to be mean, not to say I’m the big dog on the stage. I did it because government should not grow faster than people’s ability to pay for it. And in Florida that was the result. Look, there is a big difference in the philosophy of the left and our philosophy. I believe that everybody has a chance to make a contribution in our society. I believe life is really a gift from God, that it is divinely inspired. And I believe if we created a society where everybody’s abilities can be reached to their full limits, their God given abilities, that nothing will stop the United States. The left believes the opposite in many ways.
They believe that life’s not fair. That because life’s not fair, I’ll take care of you with another spending program, another tax, another regulation. Dividing our country up by haves and have nots and all sorts of other ways, that they’ll manage your liabilities. For us to win, we need to have an exact opposite view of that. Last year, I met Denisha Merriweather, she’s a Floridian. She was, she came to campaign actually a couple, a couple of months ago here in a town hall meeting. Denisha, when she was young, was held back two years in a row in 3rd grade. And I can imagine she was quite angry.
No one ever told her she was capable. She was gonna be passed along basically to, to a dead end. It happens a lot in America. Thousands and thousands of kids don’t get the power of knowledge and they’re stuck. And then we wonder why the demands on government grow faster than our ability to pay for it. Well, Denisha found out, her godmother, found out about the Florida corporate tax scholarship program. It’s the largest voucher program in the country. We created the first, second, third voucher programs in the country. We turned the whole system upside down.
We eliminated tenure for teachers. We reward teachers for performance. They get more pay when they do a good job based on student learning. The Teachers Union didn't like this at all. In fact, they mortgaged their building when I ran for reelection to try to defeat me and to support my opponent. They loss. They had to sell the building, which I found, warmed my heart to be honest with you. Because taking on big political fights is what we need to do in Washington D.C. We can't stand pat with the things that are broken. I know how to do this because I had a chance to do it. And Denisha was the beneficiary.
Her godmother found out about this program and she got to go to a Christian school. And I know what happened. I wasn’t there, but I just know in my heart what happened. In that first week, a teacher put her arm around Denisha and for the first time in her education life, she was told that she was capable, that she had God given talents. That God loved her and so did the teacher, and that together they were gonna make sure that she could learn. And Denisha Merriweather overcame the two years of being held back. She graduated with her age group. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school and college. And this year, she will get a masters degree at the University of South Florida.
I believe that we’ll be successful politically and we’ll be successful as a nation, if we’re on the side of the Denisha’s. I don't know if Denisha is a Republican or a Democrat, it’s totally irrelevant. What’s important is that she has the same right as anybody else to live a life of purpose and meaning. That she won't have to get in line and be told that somehow she’s not capable of living a life of purpose and meaning, that she’s a liability that the government will manager her life for her. Isn't it better to be on the side of people pursuing their own dreams as they see fit? Making sure that people have the capacity to achieve earned success. Isn't that the better approach? We’re gonna win if we’re on the side of the Denisha Merriweather’s.
If we focus on high sustained economic growth and keeping our company safe, we’ll win. But if we divide ourselves up, if we allow the loud voices to make it all about them, the narcissists basically saying hey, I’m the only guy, don’t worry I’ll take care of you, not interested in forging consensus, solving problems, we’ll never win. Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States and God forbid that from ever happening. I believe you’re looking at the guy that can beat Hillary Clinton, because I have a proven record. It’s a record of applying conservative principles in a hopeful, optimistic way with sheer dogged determination to implement them the right way, where everybody has a chance to win. It’s not about those that have already made it. It’s not about whether you have an R or a D by your name.
We need to create a right to rise society again. And that’s my mission and I hope that you’ll support my candidacy here in New Hampshire. Look, you all elect presidents. You have a responsibility being first in the nation. And my belief is that you take it seriously, that you wanna make sure that we have the right person to win the election in the general election but also the right person that has the right stuff to be President of the United States. I ask for your support and I appreciate you coming out for this town hall meeting. Thank you. Yes, ma’am, we’ve got a microphone coming your way.
Unidentified Female: Okay, I was really impressed to hear about your proposal for a six year ban on lobbying.
Jeb Bush: Yeah.
Unidentified Female: And some of the people who rake in the most from lobbying are retired congressional staffers and also, people who work at the Pentagon, both military and civilian. So, I’d really like to know if you would extend that six year ban to those people also.
Jeb Bush: That’s a good question. I’d, I’d have to look at the impact of that. But there should be total transparency. So, if you’re meeting with the lobbyist and you’re a staffer on a committee of great importance or your, you know you’re a big dog inside the Department of Defense, and you’re being lobbied. There should be 24 hour notice. It should be put on the internet. There should be complete transparency about this and then people can make up their mind whether it’s appropriate or not. And that, that I think across the board an open government, a more transparent government is what we need. This President promised the most transparent government in American history and we haven't gotten it. We’ve gotten the exact opposite.
So the best way to deal with, with the transparency issue is to open it up. And it could be that staffers, you know, that’s a revolving door as well and it does make sense to look at it. The other thing we need to do as it relates to the defense department is make sure there is more than three, you know, contractors. We’ve created such a confusing convoluted procurement system that is lobbied up beyond belief that you have the big defense contractors. And the cost is higher, they’re aggregators in affect. All the other parts of the, of the operations, they subcontract out. They use their influence to be able to get this contracts. There’s all sorts of legal costs associated with it. The war fighters don’t get the, the equipment necessary at the speed that they should.. So one of the other elements is to embrace procurement reform, so that we have more contractors and it’s based on merit rather than influence. Yes, sir.
Unidentified Male: So my father was sent to war in Afghanistan and Iraq during your brother’s administration...
Jeb Bush: Um hum.
Unidentified Male: And I’ve seen many people come back with PTSD and I’m running for office myself.
Jeb Bush: Where are you running?
Unidentified Male: Derry.
Jeb Bush: What are you running for?
Unidentified Male: State Representative. On the promise...
Jeb Bush: Oh, how old are you, man?
Unidentified Male: 18.
Jeb Bush: Go for it.
Unidentified Male: I’m running, I’m running on the promise to take care of veterans. I’m wondering what you would be, what you’d be willing to do to take care of our veterans and how to fix the VA?
Jeb Bush: Thank you. First of all, go get ‘em, that’s fantastic. Secondly, you’re gonna have to work with the next President to do that because, ultimately, this is a federal government responsibility. The state has a role to play. There’s a veterans operation in every department and in every, in every state. But, ultimately, to reform the VA, you need a President committed to it. And here, here are the things that we laid out in our plan.
One, we need career civil service reform. It should not be about the economic interest of the 340,000 employees of the Veterans Administration. It ought to be about the veterans. And right now, it’s about their economic interest. I don't know if you saw, recently, there was a hearing in the Congress and this guy had the gall to say, I didn't know that you thought accountability related to firing. That’s not how we view it in the Veterans Administration. Well, they sure as hell don’t, excuse me, heck don’t see it that way. There have been three people fired with one of the most egregious scandals that exists, which is bonusing people.
Last year, a $140 million of bonuses for reducing wait lists without giving care to veterans. And but men and women died, veterans died because of that. And yet, there were bonuses given and only three people fired. So number one, career civil service reform so that there’s rewards for a job well done. But you, you should, there should not be lifetime employment in government. It should not be a career that gives you 40 percent benefits and wages more than the private sector. There should be 21st Century employment practices. Second, veterans should have more choices. The idea that the, the system is, you know, the only thing that matters is just wrong. If a veteran wants to see a doctor that is their private doctor, they should have the right to do it far easier than it exists today.
They wanna go to a clinic or a hospital that is, that’s the private one, they should have the right to do that. The Veterans Administration should compete for the services to provide to the veterans. And I guess, you know what happens when you provide a competitive environment? Everybody gets better. Because if they don’t, they’ll wither away. Third, we need procurement reform and employment reform, information technology reform, these, this entity is a disaster. There’s a hospital being built in Aurora, Colorado. Modern hospital 300 million bucks. That seems to me like a pretty first rate hospital.
It now is at $1.8 billion because the Veterans Administration cannot organize itself out of a wet paper bag. No accountability. Everybody just says the dog ate my homework. The Congress is frustrated because these, this, this entity is so insular and unaccountable, you need a president that will accept responsibility when these things happen. Look, when I was Governor, we had problems all the time. I’d wake up and read the paper and go, oh my God, another child has been hurt or a caseworker didn't identify an abuse the right way. Oh my God, I mean my, my impulse wasn’t to say oh, how can I figure out a way to make sure that no one blames me. How can I make sure that, you know, the dog ate my homework is the right excuse.
How can I blame my, my predecessor, which you know, actually has been a common refrain in Washington if you know what I mean. Instead of rolling up your sleeves accepting responsibility and solving the problem, and that’s my pledge to you, on day one we’ll begin the process to fix the VA, to modernize it, to make sure that it is affected, to empower veterans to make more choices. And at the end of this, we’ll have a much better system that could cooperate with states. When you’re a state legislator and you’re working with your executive branch to make sure that the care that they receive is the best.
There should be no veteran that is homeless in this country. There should be none. And the long term disability issues that exist for veterans should be a long term commitment to solve those things. And the, and the post-traumatic stress which is now a serious problem, has to be dealt with. All of these things together, we can solve this. It does not have to be necessarily all from the top down but the Veterans Administration is the responsibility of the President and this President has let us down. Ma’am?
Unidentified Female: I don't have a question, Governor, but I wanna make a statement.
Jeb Bush: Is it a good one?
Unidentified Female: It’s very good. And I won't get you into trouble. I’ve been a volunteer politically since Truman and Dewey...
Jeb Bush: No way.
Unidentified Female: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
Jeb Bush: 48?
Unidentified Female: Yep. Yeah, yeah.
Jeb Bush: How old are you?
Unidentified Female: 85.
Jeb Bush: You don’t that’s not possible.
Unidentified Female: I live well.
Jeb Bush: You do live well.
Unidentified Female: But I moved, my husband and I retired to New Hampshire in 1986.
Jeb Bush: Were you for Truman or Dewey?
Unidentified Female: I wanna tell you what a wonderful staff you have. This is the best staff I have ever worked with.
Jeb Bush: Thank you.
Unidentified Female: They are (inaudible).
Jeb Bush: Well, how much, how much do you get paid to say that?
Unidentified Female: They’re great kids.
Jeb Bush: Yes, you’re next I’m good. How about, how about a two part one question.
Unidentified Female: Well, the first thing you already talked about balance budget but I have a bigger question I’d like to know how long it would take to
resolve the $18 trillion. Don’t answer yet. And the second question is, I would like to know how we can protect our borders better. I know there are a lot of things that have to be done but those are the two that truly interest me.
Jeb Bush: Sure. So, the way to balance the budget which will get us towards the path of reducing the debt rather than just accepting the debt level, is to grow the economy at a far faster rate, have entitlement reform, reform our Social Security supplemental retirement system, cut back on discretionary spending in general, shift power back to the states. And the one, the one reversal of that trend the shrinking government, in my mind, we need to rebuild the military. And whatever it takes to be able to create a secure America, has to be the highest priority. Now, we can reform the defense department.
There are more civilian employees than men and women in uniform. It doesn’t make sense to me. Their procurement processes I mentioned needs to be streamlined. There’s lots that we can do to shrink the cost of doing business in the defense department. But we’ve, we’ve allowed our defense capabilities to, to flat line. And we need to be modernizing it constantly so that the new threats that exist in the 21st Century can be met. So other than that, the rest of the government has to shrink. And ultimately, you get, you get towards a balance budget and the growing economy means instead of a 100 percent of GDP the debt levels, you get down to a level that is completely manageable. On immigration, I, I’m the one, this is a unique situation.
I’ve had the same view for the last four years. I know that’s really kind of remarkable in politics 'cause now everybody like, you’re doing the curly shuffle all the time. Whenever there’s a little bit of heat, they change their views. I wrote a book about it called immigration wars. It was not what you call best seller. You could buy it for a buck 99 on Amazon. I encourage you to do it. And chapter one lays out exactly what I, what I thought then and what I think now, which is we need to secure the border, and we need to deal with people that are here illegally in a way that does not give them a path to citizenship. Securing the border means building fencing where appropriate, not across the board. It is not responsible to say we’re just gonna build a wall, let Mexico pay for it.
Just, you know, memo to file here, Mexico is not gonna pay for it, okay? They’ll be shocked but it’s just not gonna happen. But we do need more fencing to make, in places where it’s appropriate. And the Congress has funded this and the administration refuses to do it. We need to use technology in a more appropriate way. We have drone technology today. We’ve been fighting for immigration so long but drone technology is relatively new. Applying that in the appropriate way. GPS technology has exploded into our lives. There’s ways to monitor the border in a way that creates greater security for us.
We need to have more border patrol agents and they need be more forward leaning on the budget. We need an e-verify system which allows for businesses to check to make sure that people are here legally. Which means that you can't forget a Social Security card and say, hey, you know, wink wink nod nod. You have to have a system that is truly verifiable so that and, and with penalties for employers that hire illegal immigrants. Across the board, we need to make a total eliminate sanctuary cities. This insidious idea that local governments can avoid fulfilling federal law and danger their communities. It makes no sense.
A targeted approach will create border security as it relates to people that are here illegally. The idea of just rounding people up, (inaudible) trust me I can do this. 500,000 a month that’s the plan the Trump plan. 500,000 a month that is the number of people that interact with our criminal justice system today. It means you double the number of people, it would overwhelm our courts. It would make it impossible to actually carry out the regular business of the courts that keep us safe. I mean, this is not a smart idea. It’s not a serious idea. The better idea would be once you control the borders is to say here, come out from the shadows, pay a fine, get a provisional work permit, work, no government assistance, learn English, don’t commit crimes, and work.
And over an extended period of time you earn legal status, which doesn’t mean you have a path to citizenship or cutting in line on people that have been patiently waiting. I don't know of another option that wouldn’t cost hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars and wouldn’t create real instability for our country. So that’s, that’s what I believe we need to do. It’s a serious problem as you all know here in New Hampshire. Not just because of the rule of law, that’s, that’s important. It’s also an important issue because of now the threat of, of Islamic terrorism.
You need to have a controlled border for that. It’s also important because of the heroin epidemic that exists. If you can provide very powerful, high-grade heroin at an extraordinary low price, you’re gonna continue to see people that are being overprescribed painkiller resorting to not using pain opiates but taking, using heroin. And the tragedy that exists in this state and other places now, it’s an epidemic. And so controlling the border has the purpose also of stopping the flow of illicit drugs into our country. Yes?
Unidentified Male: Thank you, Governor. I was stationed at a nuclear missile site in Germany back in the 70’s. So I was a little astounded to hear...
Jeb Bush: About the nuclear triad.
Unidentified Male: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna ask. A guy standing on the stage debating with you had no idea what the nuclear triad was. And when consistently asked over and again what he would do to modernize it, had no answer. Could you fill him in, could you give us an answer?
Jeb Bush: Yeah, it was breathtaking. It was breathtaking. I don’t know how else to describe it. My, my face probably, my jaw dropped down. I mean, this is the, the triad is air, land, and sea launch capabilities to create a deterrent effect that has been extraordinarily effective since the World War II era and it has brought stability to the world. Trump’s advisor, communications director, this morning, I believe, said, hey, it’s not, you know, not understanding the triad, that’s not the big deal. It’s, it’s making sure you have a president who will use nuclear weapons. No, no, no fifteen yard penalty, loss of down.
That’s not what the objective is. I mean, think about it, this is not a serious man with a serious proposal. And we’ve allowed for the triad to languish, in a sense. We haven’t invested in modernizing it. And it’s both dangerous, not to do that, and we need to make sure that we have this deterrent situation. Which means that we need too our, our submarine capability, which is perhaps, if I was answering the question, I would have said that’s probably the place where we need the greatest emphasis, because the Ohio class submarines need to be modernized. And they need to be done now, it needs to be done now and we can’t, we can't wait any longer. So across the board, all of the, all of the legs of our deterrents effect is important. But, but to have a president to not understand the, the sober, somber responsibilities of, of having access to the nuclear codes. Dang, I mean, well, I mean, you must have like, spit up your Diet Coke. This is the point, this is the point.
Look, people in New Hampshire are gonna have the chance to decide this election in many ways. And the Trump phenomena is one to be respected. He’s appealed to people’s angst, for legitimate reasons people are angry. But people in New Hampshire are gonna have to ask themselves a question. Do they really want a guy, who doesn’t, you know, he may have thought that the nuclear triad was a tripod or something, a new, a new kind of a camera or something, I don’t know. But do you really want someone who is entertaining, but is not a commander in chief, to be President of the United States? Yes, sir.
Unidentified Male: And this was exactly the very good lead in. Frequently in senior levels of government, we talk about the grand national strategy and certainly the Cold War with our grand national strategy of containment is a great example of that. It lasted for 40 years through many changes of who was in the oval office, who was leading Congress, and it’s something that the American people could relate to. Not just in the military, with the defense strategy but with our athletes going up against the Olympics, our Fortune 500 companies, and our, our entrepreneurs knowing that this is our economic system versus another economic system. My question is what do you see over the last 20 years has been our grand national strategy and how much you steer with that grand national strategy?
Jeb Bush: Great question. I think, I think we’ve, we’ve had, you know, the world has transitioned and I don't think we’ve transitioned with it. One of the real challenges is, we have a 20 mid-20th Century world, government on top of the 21st Century world. And you can't look, just talk about military strategy for a moment, you can't fight both wars. You can't fight the conventional war of the mid-20th Century, the Cold War and also deal with these asymmetric threats of terror.
We need to transfer ourselves to what the new threats are. The new threats are in cyber security. The new threats are these nation states that are aggressive that’s still part of the, part of the challenge, but we have these emerging threats like ISIS that literally came out of nowhere in the void that was created when we, when we left Iraq in a, in a period of time that was warp speed from a historical point of view. 30,000 battle tested terrorists garnering 100s of millions of dollars now have created a new threat that didn't exist just three years ago. And so, I think the grand strategy is how do we protect the homeland against these new threats while maintaining some level of, of support for recognized America can't just do this alone.
You have to build a security arrangement that includes our partners and our allies. We have to lead but I think the grand strategy is one of American leadership not in the absence of other people making their commitments as well. So in my vision of how the world looks, I see, I see the support for NATO being an essential part of it. Right now, Russia, Donald Trump’s big friend, new buddy, is challenging the notion of NATO. And it’s, it’s and they’re winning. You see countries inside the NATO alliance that now are, you know, trending towards, towards, towards Putin, towards Russia.
My guess is if we do nothing, if our, if we continue down this path of leading from behind and pulling back, that the Europeans will stop the sanctions on Russia for their invasion of the Ukraine. And when Ukraine receives that kind of treatment, how do you think that impacts all the rest of the countries in Eastern Europe and Central Europe. The United States has to play a role in these places for security for our own country. And so, from the military and foreign policy point of view, I think we can create a, a new strategy that is kind of emerging a fusion of both the conventional side of this, as well as the new threats. And economically, we gotta fix, if we’re gonna leave the world, we have to be an economic super power. Which means that people have to feel like the system works for them.
And the great challenge there, I would say is two for one, the, the rapid nature of change because of innovation and automation creating real challenges for us to create higher wage jobs. And globalization kind of accelerating all of this as we go along. We have these trends that we have not adjusted to. And a serious strategy needs to recognize the world as it is, not how we want it to be or we’re not gonna close down the, you know, there are people on the left and right that they say we’ll just build a wall, a, a protectionist wall. We’ll just, you know, we’ll just look inward. Well, no, that doesn’t work. Looking inward means you’re gonna lose, you’re gonna lose wages, you’re gonna lose job opportunities. We have to actually be competitive in the, in the world where the pace is much faster.
And so a strategy as it relates to prosperity has to be radically changing how we train and educate, simplifying our tax code, and taking power away from Washington. Moving to an outcome based regulatory system that focuses on every well intended rule having some benefit for society, but also, some detriment to our economy. And having an honest discussion of whether every one of these rules is appropriate because they’re not. We’re stifling our ability to compete. And if we can't compete, we’ll lose our will and if we lose our will, we can't lead the world. And when, and when we pull back, we see what happens. It’s ugly. That’s a phenomenal question. Yes, sir.
Unidentified Male: Hi, Edward Snowden leaks, do you think those were good or bad for the country? And then one more quick question after that is...
Jeb Bush: Bad.
Unidentified Male: If you went, okay, and why and if you weren't running for President, who would you vote for?
Jeb Bush: That’s a trick question. Why, why is it bad? He violated the law for starters. And secondly, he broke the law. And thirdly, he jeopardized national security interest for our country. And fourthly, there are men and women in positions that work for agencies with three letters that now are in jeopardy. He has made it impossible, not impossible, he’s made it extraordinary hard for us to reestablish the relationship that are necessary for our intelligence communities to be able to do their jobs. And here there’s the, the net effect of this is now we see the impacts of it.
So, now you have a situation where it might be nice to know, looking back, who these, this couple in San Bernardino were interacting with. I’d like to know. I hope that the President of the United States would like to know. That security breach that took place makes it harder, the Snowden security breach makes it harder to have a conversation about this with maybe, you know, the German intelligence authorities or the the French. And now, we see efforts to create encryptions so that the terrorists actually use the same technology to protect their messaging that the others feel compelled to do as well. And now, we see the European countries saying you can't go back door through these platforms, we’re gonna prohibit it.
We’ve created a different relationship where there’s no trust anymore and that could be the longest lasting legacy of Snowden’s, Snowden’s efforts. He, he should come back and serve time. He’s not a hero. He’s not gonna be on the cover of Time Magazine I don't think. So, the other question, look I don't know, there are a lot of good people running. I have, I have a lot of respect for many of them. I just think I’m the best. And I don’t say that, I feel the looming presence. I’m, I’m training myself to say things like that because I was brought up in a way that you don’t, you know, you don’t toot your own horn. The minute I said that I could feel it. There was a looming presence of Barbara Bush behind me, and she was about ready to whack me across the head. So, sorry mom.
But I do think my record as Governor, and my life experience, 32 years in the private sector, eight years where we accomplished more. I mean, the people in Washington. Did you hear I mean the debate they started talking like jibber jabber. I passed an amendment and I was thinking about killing something but I actually was for it. I mean it made no sense. They, they’ve lost their way and people look at this and hear this stuff and they go, it doesn’t make any sense to me. That’s the problem. We need people that actually know how to get things done and Governors do that. They do it regularly. They have to make tough decisions. And so, if I had my, you know, favorite candidate it would be someone who was a governor (inaudible) conservative consistently so who served in a big state that handled big challenges and had ideas for the future. Oh, that’s me. Yes, ma’am?
Unidentified Female: So many times during elections over the decades we see candidates making promises that they want to fulfill. But then, their hands
get tied because Congress doesn’t make it easy for them.
Jeb Bush: Yeah.
Unidentified Female: But throw in difficulties. So, I’m just wondering when you get into that position, how would you wanna handle that and what will make it possible? And how can you directly answer that without beating around the bush?
Jeb Bush: Yeah, so great question. Here’s here’s the first step. The first step is assume the people that disagree with me don’t have bad motives. Because now, it looks like every time someone disagrees with someone in Washington the first impulse is to say that they’re bad, that they’re wrong. You know, not just wrong but they have bad motives. That they’re, you know, they’re part of. The President’s classic example would be the Iranian deal where in the midst of trying to get it past Congress, he said that people that opposed his nuance approach to the Iranian agreement were in cahoots with the death to America crowd.
Well, with all due respect Mr. President, you’re the one negotiating with the death to America crowd. That agreement was a bad agreement. He should respect people that have a disagreement with him. And I think there’s a tendency in Washington today to push down anybody that disagrees with you to make yourself look better. And the net result is there’s a gap of trust that doesn’t make it possible to get things done. There are too many lessons in history, in our great country where the opposite took place. I mean, we’ve had a 240 year run here, I think, as a republic. Pretty good run.
I’d say the greatest run of any country ever created. And out of that period of time, we probably had 10 years of massive dysfunction. Maybe, maybe I, I can't tell you in the 19th Century. They had food fights and duels and stuff but it seemed to work. Now, the, they brag about an (inaudible) bill that no one read that’s a 1,000 plus pages long dealing with the trillion dollars of spending. You know, some good things and I’m sure some ugly things in there because they’re, they’re, you know, they didn't shut down government. That’s their, that’s how low the bar is. So how do you start? You start by assuming that people on the other party don’t have bad motives. And you at least listen to them to determine if you can find common ground.
Tip O’Neill did it with Ronald Reagan and they secured Social Security solvency for now what, 40 years, almost 40 years. My dad did it with Democrats. Bill Clinton did it with Republicans. My brother did it with Democrats. For much, a lot of the legislation. We’ve gotta restore that. You can’t make democracy work unless they’re, the bigger the challenge, the more important it is that both parties have a role to play in it. You cannot make our democracy work by jamming it down the other team’s throat. We’ve had Dodd-Frank, the stimulus, and Obama Care.
Not a single Republican vote in any of those three cases. And even to this day, they remain unpopular because the President didn't take the time to try to forge consensus. So that’s my answer to you. I had one quick story. I had a friend of mine who is a United States Senator, who got invited to the White House to have dinner with the President, up in the residence. Pretty cool. I’ve been there it’s nice. It’s a nice place. Good history, you know, you got things on the walls. The food is good. There’s tradition. It’s the White House for crying out loud. It’s like it’s the center of this extraordinary country in some ways. And so, he’s going up to the rickety elevator with the user and the eager aid. And the young aid says this is exciting.
You’re the first, you’re the first Republican that the President has dined with during his time. And I’m thinking this is year five. Really? I mean, if you could get the White House for a day and you had something you really wanted to get done, and you could invite someone to have a nice meal and a glass of wine and maybe go out on the Truman balcony and put your arm around him and say (inaudible) I need your help on this. You know, and look at the Washington Monument, I think it’s a pretty good place to actually forget consensus, don’t you think? But this President never felt compelled to do it. And that’s just wrong. That’s a missed opportunity for him and for our country. Yes?
Unidentified Male: I’ve been concerned about the, about the state department and the fact that more and more of the decisions appear to be being made out of the, out of the oval office.
Unidentified Male: And, and then the crowd that hangs, you know, that they accumulate. I would love to see, in fact, I kind of think about the state
department like I do about the VA. You know, that, that we need a more professional state and we need like how many times have they held the press conferences to explain the foreign policy decisions that they’re making and, and where they’re headed. And, you know, and a lot, a lot of that is being taken to the President’s voice.
Unidentified Male: In other words, he’s the one speaking for the, for the state department. Would you be able to be encouraged to form a more professional more active state department?
Jeb Bush: Great question. Here’s, here’s, here’s what I believe. The NSC, the National Security Council, has I think doubled in size in the last
generation. And this President has consolidated more power inside the White House for foreign policy than any President prior. And it’s allowed foreign policy to be politicized. The Benghazi issues is a good example of it, where it was clear that this was a terrorist attack.
And Hillary Clinton sent an email to, to her daughter and to the Prime Minister of Egypt the day after the attack saying just that. But they prolonged the, the lie for as long as they could to make sure that it didn't damage the President’s reelection chances. Well, that’s not how the presidency should work. You should appoint men and women of real talent in the Department of Defense and Department of State, build a team, where the National Security Council isn't the place where our, where decisions are made. Where the President calls in and kind of, you know, creates the, creates the political solution to the mess or whatever.
You use the National Security Council and the head of it as a mediator for disputes. And it would allow for a hearty discussion about what the policies should be. And the President ultimately has to make the, the choice. But I would shift power back to the DOD and the Department of State and I would hold them to account. My biggest problem with the Department of State is that, man, I mean they, they operate sometimes without enough attention, accountability. You give them accountability and you professionalize it, you’ll get a good result. But if you allow them to just kind of run wild, they’re not necessarily carrying out the actions of the President.
Today, or yesterday, John Kerry I guess was in Moscow and he said something that was breathtaking. He said that the United States and, and, does not have an interest in regime change in, in Syria. Well, that’s news to everybody in our country because that has been the official policy of the United States. I mean, I don't know, all of sudden are we just like gonna rewrite history and ignore the fact that they had one policy. The President, I think, the last time he spoke said that the policy was a regime change. And yet, now he says that Russia and the United States have similar interests in providing security in Syria and that Assad in effect will have to stay. That is just, you gotta have leadership in, in the White House. The President has to lead as it relates to foreign policy.
But it ought to be done in a way where once you establish what the vision is and what the strategy is that you empower the, the, the state department and defense department to carry out their, their, their world. I, I think you could cut the NSC in half, and that would send a pretty powerful signal of what you’re trying to get to. I, I think it’s a great point. Yes, sir?
Unidentified Male: (Inaudible).
Unidentified Male: Do you believe that Donald Trump would lose in a complete landslide to Hillary?
Jeb Bush: Yes.
Unidentified Male: And if so, how do you show those current Trump supporters, that in reality, they’re not supporting Trump they’re supporting Hillary?
Jeb Bush: Well, it’s a great point. Look, I, I respect the fact that that people are supporting Mr. Trump because they’re angry. And I, I totally respect the fact that they’re angry for good reason. Washington’s broken. It starts with, the people are angry because the President hasn’t led. And then Washington itself is
dysfunctional. And the Republicans in charge of Congress made a big overpromise when they gained control. And I think people saw this and now, they see no big results and they’re quite upset. And Trump, basically, is, you know, understands that and with his grandiosity has garnered their support.
So, the challenge, I think, is to make sure that people understand the candidates that may have more detailed plans, more relevant plans to solve these problems, understand why people are angry. And then, make the case that just having someone that understands your anger isn't enough. You gotta have someone that can fix these things that are broken. You have to have people that have the ability to bring people together. Look, one of the, one of the tools of leadership I’ve learned, through trial and error through my life, is one of the, one of the powerful things that you can accomplish is knowing what you don’t know.
The minute you get to that point and have the humility to be curious enough to learn is when you can become a leader. I’m afraid Mr. Trump doesn’t have that leadership skill. I mean, he’s been the front running candidate now for five months. And not knowing what the nuclear triad is. I mean he’s, he’s in. he’s not moving forward, he’s going back as it relates to his, his knowledge. And so, I think people will begin to see that and realize as you get closer, we’re electing a President. Not an agitator in chief but someone who actually needs to be a commander in chief and bring us together on the economic side as well. But beyond question, Trump loses to Hillary Clinton. Beyond question. Yes, ma’am?
Unidentified Female: (Inaudible) ask you about this epidemic of mass shootings that we’ve had for the last several years. It does not seem to be getting better. It seems to be getting worse. And I know it’s a very difficult problem. Obviously, not one fix. But what are your ideas for attacking this?
Jeb Bush: Yeah, so it’s, it’s certainly more visible. It’s certainly more visible. I don't know if we have more mass shootings. It appears that way. I, I just don’t know what the facts are. And it’s, it’s so debilitating and sad to see it. And people, people I think are scared for all sorts of reasons. The, the terror threat is, is a real one and people are scared. And then you see the violence and you see disturbances in the big urban areas where, you know, you have the conflict between police and, and kids that don’t seem to have any hope about what the future looks like. You get a sense that we’re kind of unraveling.
And it’s, it’s deeply troubling to me personally because this is not the country that I know we, we need to be. If you look at the specifics of why it is that people do what they’ve done outside of the radicalization question of San Bernardino, the question say of Sandy Hook or, or these other places. The, the question is mental derangement. These people are deeply, mentally ill. They spiral out of control and then they have access to weapons in all sorts of ways. There hasn’t been any kind of one pattern about how they access weapons. But the one common denominator is they’re, they’re crazed, they’re deranged. They’re sick.
And they act on this sickness in a way that is devastating. So there should be at a minimum a consensus about how we need to figure out how to build a deeper understanding of, a deeper network for mental health challenges. How do you interact, how do you identify someone before it’s too late? How do you give them the, the kind of medical help that they can get? How can you make sure that, that people that are deranged can't access guns to buy guns directly? Some cases they have, some cases they haven't. And I’m not sure we’re totally committed to that yet.
But we need to be spending more money on mental health networks across the country as well. And people need to reengage with, we need to reengage with ourselves. I, I find it incredible that a couple would have been, had been radicalized for three years or something and that they were building pipe bombs in their garage. And that they were coworkers, you know, that one of the man was working and making 60,000 bucks and he was a well regarded employee. And that no one knew that they were organizing this incredibly violent act. Somehow we have to do better at reconnecting all of us together.
I don't have an answer to that but the internet actually creates a barrier for that. You can live your life basically on the, online and never really interact with people anymore. And once you get out of control all of your thoughts get validated by the marginal side of the internet. And this is a huge problem. It’s something that there’s no easy answer as you said. I, I don't have an answer but I think, I think you start with the mental health place, that seems to be the common denominator of all these tragedies. One more.
Unidentified Male: I happened to see your father when he first started his campaign in Atlanta, Georgia years ago. So I wanna thank you you and your family for providing all the services for us and also for being there to support the American people. My question is my son happens to be a pharmacy manager so we hear about this all the time. Drug addiction in New Hampshire is a very significant issue. Mostly heroin.
Unidentified Male: So other than securing the borders and having another war on drugs, what specific steps can you take as President to stem the tide?
Jeb Bush: Very good. First of all, when I was Governor, we created the strategy to, to deal with this in a comprehensive fashion because Florida was actually was the source of importation of illicit drugs for a long while. And we were successful, the government the federal government particularly was so successful that the flow of drugs diverted to Mexico. We were on the front lines and we saw, I saw first hand if you go to family court and to drug court where my daughter went. I mean I had first hand knowledge of that. You see, you see the challenges of addiction. I mean in our, in my case it was deeply personal.
I was very public figure in the fourth largest state and my precious daughter had to go through this, this challenge that she faced in a very public way. It wasn’t easy. But we created a strategy that dramatically reduced drug abuse. And the way you do it is to first of all, create a strategy. I looked at it as a business opportunity. In the first week, the former president of the Senate hosted a summit where we brought all the provider, all the treatment providers, all of the provention coalitions, law enforcement together for the first time in the state’s history to say you create the strategy. I will take the lead and my wife will take the lead in going to the legislature and they’ll, they’ll fund the strategy, and we’ll benchmark it. So we actually did it. We said here’s the strategy.
We call it the forefront strategy. We create prevention coalitions in every community, all 67 counties. We expanded by 25 percent drug treatment 'cause it was underfunded. And that has to be part of the answer. I’ve learned here in New Hampshire that, that there are other means, other than just plain treatment that are helpful as well to give people confidence, interacting with people going through the exact same thing. That, that there’s a restorative part of this, a network part of this that needs to be built, and places that don’t have it aren’t gonna work as well. And cops, law enforcement people need to be fully engaged in this. And there needs to be a federal state and local effort to deal with interdiction of heroin in New Hampshire.
There is the HIDTA I think it’s called the high impact drug areas. The federal monies exist but this should be far more coordinated. So, controlling the border is part of it but there needs to be a much greater network between local, state, and federal agents as well. The one thing I would add to this now because your epidemic here is principally because of prescription drug use converting to heroin use. So the gateway drug is, is one that is legally offered. I think the Medical Association in New Hampshire. I’d love to get your views on this. I think they need to be engaged. We’re overprescribing like nobody’s business.
It is crazy, 90 percent of all the opiates that are, that are prescribed legally in this world are prescribed in America. And we’re creating, you, you, look, you can't if people have issues removing pain that doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. And creating a bunch of addicts is certainly isn't the solution to this. And so, I think there needs to be a lot more regulation and training for doctors not to just say here, have another pill. In fact, the FDA just approved the use of, of opiates for children. This was like six months ago. That makes no sense. I think we need to press the pause button on that. And the final thing is, illicit drugs by legal, legal prescription drugs, there ought to be a tracking system that you can use to make sure or, you know, there, there are, there are people that pharmacy shop and doctor shop.
And there are pharmacists that, that view this as a way to make a lot of money and doctors sadly as well overprescribing. But you need a database to be able to track that. In Florida, when we did this, after I left, this was done post my time. There was dramatic reductions in the use of, the illegal use of prescription drugs. I mean, well, it went down like 90 percent or something, right? The, the members of legislature did an extraordinary job and so it’s, it’s gotta be a comprehensive approach to this. Thank you all very much. Happy holidays. Merry Christmas.
(Transcriptionist’s note: At this point there is an unrelated conversation that was not transcribed.)
Unidentified Female: (Inaudible)
Jeb Bush: Thank you. Thank you. I’m a nice person. Nice does not mean weakness. It means being respectful but you can be tough. Trust me. The only person on the stage that’s made tough decisions consistently for success is me. I know how to do it. Once you learn how to do it, it’s helpful.
Unidentified Female: (Inaudible).
Jeb Bush: That’s right. Nice to meet you, thank you for being here.
Unidentified Male: (Inaudible).
Jeb Bush: There’s no database right?
Unidentified Male: There is. It started this year.
Jeb Bush: But it’s voluntary?
Unidentified Male: Well, it’s voluntary but (inaudible) as much as possible. We’re so busy...
Jeb Bush: We found, we found that the Medicaid program there would be like one percent of the doctors that bam bam bam they were just like getting the getting the...
Unidentified Male: What I’m finding is the pain specialist know what they’re doing. (Inaudible).
Jeb Bush: I had a crushed finger which was really painful because that’s where all the nerve endings are I guess. And I got a doctor prescribed Oxycontin
once. And I took, I took one and like, wow. I had the greatest nap I’ve ever had in my life. And I took another one. I had the greatest, second greatest nap. And then I realized, wow, this is too good.
Unidentified Male: Yeah, that’s the problem.
Jeb Bush: It’s too, just because it’s, it’s so it works so well then you become more interested in feeling good about it rather than relieving pain.
Unidentified Male: Right.
Jeb Bush: That’s apparently that’s...
Unidentified Male: (Inaudible).
Jeb Bush: The other thing I didn't mention which would be helpful is drug courts. We should, this guy right here is gonna make it happen, Chuck
Morris(sp?). He’s the president of (inaudible). But drug courts gives a diversion out of the criminal justice system but you still have on your, you know, the illness is to get clean. And if you don’t, you get back into the criminal justice system. That, that was the real help for us as well. Good luck to you.
Unidentified Female: (Inaudible) your mother was the most gracious, gracious First Lady. Also, my dad’s a World War II veteran.
Unidentified Female: He’s now in a nursing home. And if he has to stay there, they’re gonna take his home, his dignity (inaudible).
Jeb Bush: Why, why can't he...
Unidentified Female: Because he doesn’t have the means...
Jeb Bush: Right by why...
Unidentified Female: To pay for them everyday.
Jeb Bush: So, why, why...
Unidentified Female: So they’ll put a lien on his home.
Jeb Bush: Home, I know.
Unidentified Female: And his (inaudible).
Jeb Bush: Why can't he have care at home? Is he too frail?
Unidentified Female: Yes, he needs 24/7. They have to lift him to go to the bathroom.
Unidentified Female: They have to help him dress. He can't walk on his own.
Jeb Bush: Yeah, how old is?
Unidentified Female: 94. He’ll be 95 in May. He was a (inaudible).
Jeb Bush: Wow.
Unidentified Female: I wish you all the luck in the world.
Jeb Bush: Thank you. My dad’s in a similar circumstance (inaudible).
Unidentified Female: I know and it hurts.
Jeb Bush: By the way his security clearance ought to have been a little more...
Jeb Bush: He has, he has put the security interest to this country in a very bad hole.
Jeb Bush: It’s it’s been devastating. Look, he may have done it for a principle reason in his own way, you know. But what he did was wrong and it set us
back. And it’s made it hard now to deal with these threats of terror. It’s just a fact so. Anyway, Merry Christmas.
Unidentified Male: (Inaudible).
Jeb Bush: Well, it’s dead of course, the battery. I’m not using it enough. I, I use Twitter. I get notifications on Twitter. I look at email and my calendar, principally. Good luck to you.
Unidentified Female: Can we get a Christmas photo? In front of the tree, tree, tree. And then my article’s coming out in the (inaudible). My one question for you is if your bus comes back can I have a picture of it?
Jeb Bush: Yes, of course. That’d be cool.
Unidentified Female: Can I have a picture of the inside of the bus?
Unidentified Female: Okay.
Jeb Bush: I don't know if we’re gonna bring the bus back.
Unidentified Female: I’ll find out from your staff.
Jeb Bush: I like, I love that bus it’s pretty cool.