“He would be an awesome U.S. senator,” Bush said in a wide-ranging interview with RealClearPolitics.
“I think the party would benefit a lot by having Jeb Bush in the U.S. Senate,” the president added. “I think Florida would benefit a lot. I think the country would benefit a lot. And I think the Republican Party would benefit a lot. He is a proven leader who, when given responsibilities, succeeded.”
Earlier this month Jeb, a former two-term governor of Florida, told Politico that he is “considering” a run for Martinez’s seat. The Florida senator announced his retirement on Dec. 2.
To rebuild the GOP brand, the former governor has said the party needs to embrace reform and broaden the party’s outreach, especially to Hispanics. He also suggests a renewed commitment to core Republican principles such as a limited scope of government.
The president echoed his brother’s recommendations, saying that party needs to retrench along old lines.
“I think most Americans want their government to be effective, results-oriented, efficient," Bush said. “They would like to pay as little a tax as possible. They want their military to be strong, viable, and effective.”
“The question is how you take those basic beliefs and explain them, either through policy or words, in a way where there's common understanding.”
He also expressed worry that the party has become too exclusive and has turned off many voters. “Caring about people is an integral part of getting people to believe in you,” Bush said. “A guy says, 'They don't care about me, they don't respect my heritage' — you can’t get their vote no matter what your philosophy is.”
Looking back at the heated immigration debate of 2006, Bush said Republicans came off as “anti-Latino.”
“That's where the debate left our party in certain sectors, and so it hurts,” he said.