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FOX "Hannity"- Transcript: Bush Interview


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Joining us now to explain more, the man himself, 2016 Republican presidential candidate, former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Governor, good to see you. Welcome back.

BUSH: Thank you, Sean. Good to be with you.

HANNITY: All right, Jeb can fix it, the new e-book -- it seems like - - the polls aren't where you want them. Seems like you want to hit the reset button. Explain what you're trying to do here.

BUSH: Well, I'm -- what I'm trying to do is to campaign hard in the early states, to talk about a record of accomplishment, to understand the frustration that people feel that Washington's not working, but give them hope that it can work if we have conservative leaders that forge consensus to fix the big, complex things.

People are upset about Washington because we elected a Republican majority in the Senate, and very little gets done. And I worked for a lot of these good candidates that are going to be great senators. But right now, we're stuck.

And I think we need a leader in the White House to fix the most convoluted tax code in the world, the regulatory system that is stifling the next generation of businesses. We need to fix the culture in Washington. I would love to see a balanced budget amendment so we could get to a balanced budget far faster.

We should make sure that elected officials don't immediately become lobbyists when they finish. We need line-item veto power for the next president. There's a lot of things that I think we could do to hit the ground running to create a culture that would create limited government and shifting power back to families and local communities.

HANNITY: You know, Governor, when I first interviewed you at CPAC, I went over your record as governor of Florida. You have a solid, strong conservative record -- first state with school vouchers, AAA bond rating, you got an increase. You created jobs, balanced budgets and surpluses.

It seems from the get-go -- and maybe it's your opponents, maybe it's your critics -- that people have focused basically on three things, maybe your last name, and certainly immigration and Common Core. And those have stuck with you.

How do you respond to that? Because it seems to be an issue that just keeps coming up again and again.

BUSH: Well, when I talk to people, what they want to know is how are you going to deal with the deficit. And I have a plan to do that, starting with high growth and cutting spending across the board and reforming our entitlement system.

The only place I think that Washington shouldn't grow in terms of spending is we need to rebuild our military. We see what's happening now with this pathetic foreign policy of President Obama that Hillary Clinton is now suggesting she would just double down on, gives him an A on everything that he's done.

Our country is weak and vacillating, and we need to restore the military. So I have plans to do all these things. And I want people to know that it's not just talk. I got to do it as governor of the state of Florida. And I have the backbone, the heart and the brain to be able to fix these big, complex things so we can move forward again as a nation.

HANNITY: Donald Trump...

BUSH: A lot of people don't want to talk about the process around in New Hampshire. They want to know what you're going to do to allow them to rise up again. They're very frustrated.

HANNITY: Donald Trump has hit you hard. You've been hitting Marco Rubio pretty hard. You had the campaign Powerpoint that came out. Among other things, you said -- in the Powerpoint, it said Marco's a risky bet. So there's little battles that seem to be taking a lot of your attention away.

What is your reaction to Trump? What is your -- why are you going after Marco so hard? It seemed like you guys were friends going into this.

BUSH: I haven't -- and he's my friend, and he's a skilled politician for sure. But I believe we need someone who has a proven record to go against Hillary Clinton. Her record is one of lack of accomplishments. She's passed, in 10 years as a United States, three bills that she sponsored, naming a highway after Tim Russert, a monument and a post office.


HANNITY: We need to have someone that has a record of accomplishment...

HANNITY: I don't mean to laugh. That's not exactly an accomplishment!

BUSH: Ten years.

HANNITY: I liked Tim Russert, but that's not...


HANNITY: ... but that's not exactly the big accomplishment.

BUSH: Yes.


BUSH: Well, I totally get it. And in foreign policy, after the Benghazi hearings, where she said that, in fact, that this was created by Islamic terrorism after denial after denial after denial, and 600 plus e- mails from the embassy in Libya saying that they had a security risk and no action taken?

I think we need someone that has a record of accomplishment. That's my issue.

HANNITY: Look...

BUSH: People are going to sort out all the little internal battles. I'm not focused on that.

HANNITY: Yes. Let me ask this. I want to point out, one of the things I'm most concerned about -- yes, I'm concerned about Americans out of the labor force and poverty and on food stamps. I'm concerned about median income down. I'm concerned about immigration.

All these issues to me pale in comparison to what is I think will ultimately be proven to be worse than the Munich deal, and that's this Iranian deal. I want to ask you about this and what you would do as president, if you're elected, because look at the video that's out today. You know, look at what the Iranian parliament did yesterday. Even with the nuclear deal, they're burning the American flag. They won't give up chanting "Death to America."

And yet this president's going to give them $150 billion, missile defense with Putin, ICBM capability, more conventional weapons. And we got nothing! What would you do on day one on that specific issue?

BUSH: We need to clearly confront the ambitions Iran has in the region. We need to reinstate sanctions to do what's necessary to make sure that they don't get fresh capital from Europe and other countries, companies that want to try to profit.

They're going to have to make a choice. Are they going to want to do business in the largest economy with the greatest respect for the rule of law, or are they going to trade that in for an Iranian economy that's controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that where there is no rule of law?


BUSH: I think we need to re-engage with our allies to create a serious confrontation with Iran. The irony of all this is that the greatest ally of Israel is -- has helped -- aided and abetted to create the greatest existential threat of that country since its beginning.

And we need to make sure that we also support Israel. It would create a deterrent effect if we provided Israel with the necessary sophisticated arms so that they know -- that the Iranians know that we're serious about confronting their ambitions across the board, both nuclear and otherwise.

HANNITY: You know, Governor, I believe that your brother did the right thing when he went into Iraq. And we now see cities that Americans fought, bled and died for and shed their blood in, Mosul, Fallujah, Tikrit, Ramadi -- all of these cities Obama allowed to get into the hands of ISIS.

What do we do from here, considering those cities were won? How would you handle that part?

HANNITY: We need to re-engage with the Sunni tribal leaders to do what the surge did, which was to create a coalition that allowed for the surge to be effective, to take back those communities that you describe. We need to directly arm the Kurds, which this administration has been reluctant to do. We need to embed our trainers and the limited number of troops that we have inside the Iraqi army. We need air controllers to be able to identify where the sorties have to be hit.

We need a strategy, Sean. What we now have is a reactive effort that is not strategic in its approach. And the strategy has at the end objective, in my mind, the ending of Islamic terrorism with the ending of ISIS.

HANNITY: Last question. Where do you stand on this controversy over these debates? I thought the moderators at CNBC were disgraceful.

BUSH: Yes. Well, I just want the rules to be clear, whatever the rules are, to apply them fairly. We were told that the debate was going to be about economic policy, the deficits and the debt, which would have been great. And I hope and I'm pretty certain that the FOX Business debate will be about those things because I think they'll honor their word and their commitment.

Those are the issues that people care about. When you have people with declining income, they want to have a serious conversation about how we can fix these things applying conservative principles the right way so that people can be lifted up again. And I'm looking forward to the debate next week in Milwaukee.

HANNITY: All right, Governor. Thank you. We always appreciate your time. Appreciate it.

BUSH: Thank you, Sean.


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