By Paul Richter, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)
WASHINGTON — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledged that running for president will require him to criticize his brother, former President George W. Bush, though it makes him uncomfortable.
“This is hard for me, to be honest with you,” Bush said in an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation that was recorded Saturday and aired Sunday. “I have to do the Heisman on my brother, that I love. This is not something that I’m comfortable doing.”
Bush’s remark — conjoining the Heimlich maneuver with the college football Heisman Trophy — showed that he shares the family tendency toward malaprops that marked the public careers of his brother and father, former President George H.W. Bush. On a more substantive level, it showed the unease he has already demonstrated on the campaign trail with how to handle his brother’s legacy.
In the interview, Bush criticized his brother for allowing federal spending to balloon during his time in the White House, a part of the Bush record that conservatives in the Republican Party have often denounced. But he suggested that other Republicans shared the blame.
Because of President Bush’s focus on counterterrorism after Sept. 11, 2001, “I think he let the Republican Congress get a little out of control, in terms of the spending,” Jeb Bush said.
He said his brother deserved credit for “protecting the homeland” after the terrorist attacks.
Jeb Bush has not yet announced that he is running for president, although he has been campaigning and raising money for months. Avoiding an announcement for now has allowed him to sidestep campaign finance restrictions.
But with candidate debates set to start in August, Bush said he would decide after a trip next week to Germany, Poland and Estonia.
“After that, I’ll have to make up my mind,” he said.
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Photo: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush looks on prior to speaking at the 2014 National Summit on Education Reform in Washington, DC, November 20, 2014 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)