In comments at odds with the views of many in his party, Bush, the
son of the 41st president and brother of the 43rd, said of the
divisive immigration issue: "I think we need to kind of get beyond
the harsh political rhetoric to a better place.
"I'm going to say this and it will be on tape and so be it," Bush
said in an interview with Fox News host Shannon Bream in an event at
the Texas presidential library of his father, George H.W. Bush.
"The way I look at this is someone who comes to our country because
they couldn't come legally ... and they crossed the border because
they had no other means to work, to be able to provide for their
family, yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony.
"It's an act of love, it's an act of commitment to your family.
Bush, 61, added: "I honestly think that that is a different kind of
crime. There should be a price paid, but it shouldn't rile people up
that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their
Bush repeated at the event that he would decide on a presidential
bid by the end of the year.
A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed the
Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate in June 2013 but has stalled in
the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Republican lawmakers have cited deep divisions in the party over the
issue, including granting legal status to 11 million undocumented
A Republican Party review after the last presidential election had
urged the party to embrace immigration reform to attract more
Hispanic support. Democratic President Barack Obama, who was
re-elected in 2012, won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote to
Republican challenger Mitt Romney's 27 percent.
[to top of second column]
Recent polls have suggested that if he were to run, Bush, a former
Florida governor, would be weighed down by Americans' lingering
attitudes toward his brother, George W. Bush, who left office in
January 2009 as one of the least popular presidents in U.S. history.
In a Washington Post/ABC News poll last month, nearly half the
voters surveyed said they "definitely would not" vote for Jeb Bush
in 2016 — a level of disapproval matched only by Romney. Even Bush's
mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, has been lukewarm about the
notion of another son running for president.
Asked by Bream about the critical considerations that would go into
his decision on whether to run for the presidency, Bush said one was
whether he could do it with a "hopeful, optimistic message" that
avoids drawing him into a political "mudfight."
The other consideration, he said, "is it OK for my family?
Is it something that isn't a huge sacrifice for our family."
He added: "It turns out that not running has generated more interest
than if I said I was running."
(Reporting by Peter Cooney; editing by Jim Loney and Eric Walsh)
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