Jeb Bush: Reagan ‘would have a hard time’ in today’s GOP

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“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad — they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground,” Bush said at the headquarters of Bloomberg LP in Manhattan, according to remarks reported by Buzzfeed.

That sentiment has been pushed by Democrats, but is surprising coming from Bush, a highly respected conservative figure that many speculate could be the Republican presidential nominee in 2016.

According to Buzzfeed, Bush said he thought the rigid and highly charged political atmosphere was “disturbing” but “temporary.”

“Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time — they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan suport,” he said, adding that Reagan “would be criticized” for reaching across the aisle today.

“I do feel a little out of step with my party on this,” Bush said.

The former Florida governor also said Monday that the deficit deal his father helped craft more than two decades ago helped spur economic growth, even though his father lost his bid for a second term after breaking his “no new taxes” pledge.

Jeb Bush’s comments come not long after he told the House Budget Committee that he could accept a debt deal that included 10 dollars in spending cuts for every dollar in new tax revenue.

That statement put Jeb Bush at odds with some GOP leaders – including Mitt Romney, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee – who have rejected any deficit-reduction plan that raises revenues.

Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist, told The Hill those comments also showed that Jeb Bush wasn’t particularly sophisticated about the Washington tax debate.

And on Monday, Norquist said Jeb Bush’s follow-up comments were even worse, because the former governor explicitly endorsed his father’s strategy.

Norquist and other Republicans have argued that the past deficit deals agreed to by George H.W. Bush and Reagan did not restrain spending, even as they raised new revenues.

“He’s like the guy that gets off the bus from Kansas in New York and gets taken,” Norquist said about Jeb Bush on Monday.  

This post was updated at 6:15 p.m.