Former presidential hopeful Jeb Bush criticized President Donald Trump‘s frequent tweeting and lack of focus on passing his agenda in an interview with CNBC at the eMerge Americas conference on Monday in Miami.
Bush, who served as governor of Florida, has been critical of Trump, dubbing him the “chaos candidate” during the presidential campaign. Despite heavy spending, Bush’s own presidential run fell far short of expectations in a campaign cycle that rode a wave of populism.
Bush weighed in on a number of political issues, including former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony with the Senate Intelligence Committee last week. Bush reaffirmed comments he previously made about how he does not think Comey’s testimony indicated Trump committed obstruction of justice. He did say he thought that the president’s alleged actions were inappropriate and hurt the country, however.
“Look, I didn’t support Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president,” Bush said. “I want him to succeed. I wanted Barack Obama to succeed, and anything that undermines the presidency weakens our ability to solve problems.”
Bush has not been shy about his thoughts on Trump. Last week at Boston College, Bush urged Trump to focus on his job, according to the Boston Herald. In Las Vegas last month, Bush told the audience that the chaos of the Trump campaign has continued into his presidency, CNN reported. He urged Trump to stop tweeting and start governing.
Bush offered the president some constructive criticism on Monday. Instead of making the narrative about himself, Bush wants Trump to focus on executing an agenda aimed at “restoring economic growth ” through tax and regulation reform while stopping “all this stuff about him.”
“It’s not about him. It’s about people’s hopes being lifted. And so that’s my advice. Donald, I know you watch CNBC,” Bush said as he turned to look into the camera. “You’re an avid cable watcher. Get on with it, man. You’re president of the United States. You’ve got great opportunity. The country will rally behind you.”
Bush backed up Trump on a key issue: He condemned leaks and pushed for better technology within the federal government.
Trump didn’t win the election because of Russian hacking, Bush said, although he doesn’t doubt Russians tried to influence the election. For Bush, the bigger issue is whether other areas, such power generation, transmission lines and people’s private information, are secure from hacking.
Bush wouldn’t weigh in on rumors that Trump will announce rollbacks of former President Barack Obama’s Cuba policies in a speech in Miami, home to Bush and a large Cuban population. He stopped short of outright rebuking Obama’s policies, but he doubted their ability to spur change in Cuba’s government.
“Dictators don’t go quietly into the night,” Bush said. “They either die, and then there’s change, but they don’t wake up one day after 50 years of oppression after they’ve controlled everything and say, ‘OK, I changed my mind.’ That’s not how it works.”
Bush supports the idea of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which his father, George H.W. Bush, helped negotiate in the early 1990s. Much has changed since the terms were laid out, the younger Bush said, including the explosion of the internet.
He added that he wants to see the U.S. work with Mexico instead of isolating itself behind a wall. A U.S. collaboration with Mexico, Bush said, will allow the two nations to compete with China.