Posts Tagged President George W. Bush
Jeb Bush told an Iowa audience Friday night that he was glad to be back in the Hawkeye State, where he spent so many hours helping his father campaign for president.
“Most of that time, at least the beginning of it, was right here in Iowa. And it was a blast,” he said while making his first 2016 trip to the state, which traditionally votes first in the presidential nominating process.
The visit is aimed to garner public support for an all-but-certain campaign that Bush has been sculpting behind the scenes with help from a vast network of donors and top political operatives.
He kicked off the weekend headlining a fundraiser Friday night for Rep. David Young, pitching a conservative record as the former two-term governor of Florida and, in true presidential fashion, dishing out affection for Iowa.
“I just love the state. I really had a good time,” he said. “And my dad won, which was a spectacular experience.”
His father, George H.W. Bush, won the Iowa caucuses in 1980 but failed to win the nomination and became Ronald Reagan’s running mate. He then famously lost the Iowa caucuses in 1988 despite going on to win the nomination and the presidency. .
“I’ve done it both ways,” Bush continued, finishing his thought. “I’ve been to Iowa when my dad lost, and when my dad won. I like the winning part better, to be honest with you.” Bush promised the crowd, which was gathered at an agriculture museum in Urbandale, that he intends to “come back with regularity.”
In his remarks he addressed national security threats, saying President Barack Obama is “the first president since World War II who does not believe that American power is a force for good,” and took a shot at Hillary Clinton.
“There’s a lot of things we need to restore,” he said, talking about foreign policy. “This President and by the way his former secretary of state have let us down in this regard.”
He’ll further make his case to Iowans at an agriculture summit in Des Moines on Saturday, where he’ll be joined by other potential contenders. Bush, who hasn’t run for public office since 2002, also plans to make campaign-style stops at two other events in the state, giving him a chance to practice his retail politicking skills in a place where activists expect to be personally courted by White House hopefuls.
He got started Friday night, working the room while taking selfies and greeting supporters, including a woman who said she was a 10th cousin to Bush, as a crush of reporters and cameras followed his every move.
One man asked him to sign the book “41” that his brother, former President George W. Bush, wrote about their father, the 41st president. “And now signed by possibly someday ’45’,” the man said, as Bush autographed the book.
The trip comes in the middle of a tour of early voting states for Bush. He traveled to Nevada on Monday and flies to New Hampshire and South Carolina next week, completing a two-week swing that hits the first four states in the presidential primary calendar.
Asked by the swarm about his busy travel schedule, Bush said the “one thing I miss is sleeping with my wife every night.” “If I could fly home to Miami every night, that would be spectacular,” he added as he tried to push his way through the crowd.
Candidates Under Scrutiny
In Iowa on Saturday, he joins about 10 potential presidential candidates in yet another cattle call for possible 2016 candidates, this time at an event focused on agricultural issues in the state.
Other featured speakers include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. Sen. Marco Rubio withdrew his name from the list earlier this week, citing logistical concerns because of a family wedding, while Sen. Rand Paul will be in Kentucky lobbying his state party to approve a plan that will let him run for president and his Senate seat at the same time.
Saturday’s gathering is the second large assembly of Republican contenders in Iowa this year, but it’s expected to be markedly different from the last one. That event, called the Freedom Summit, was hosted in January by Iowa Rep. Steve King and featured 10 hours of speeches that appealed to the party’s socially conservative and activist base.
At this event, each candidate will undergo a 20-minute Q&A with the event’s host, Bruce Rastetter, an agribusiness entrepreneur and Republican donor. The idea is to get the candidates talking about agriculture-specific issues — water quality, wind energy, the Renewable Fuel Standard, rather than provide a forum to rehash stump speeches and standard talking points. “The goal is not to have a gotcha moment,” said GOP strategist Nick Ryan, who came up with the idea for the forum. “The goal is to have thoughtful conversation.”
Rastetter, in a separate interview, said agriculture-minded voters carry political weight not just in Iowa but nationwide. “Last I looked, every American eats every day, so all these issues are pretty important, and I think will stretch well beyond Iowa.” Four years ago Rastetter publicly pushed for Christie to run for president, but he stressed Friday that he’s not backing anyone at the moment and made that clear beforehand to the contenders he’ll question on Saturday. “I think today we’re happy and excited that he’s going to be here, but the field is much broader,” he said, though he added that he thinks Christie “has a viable opportunity.”
Christie first needs to overcome some alarming poll numbers that show he has the lowest favorability rating among potential presidential candidates in the state, according to a recent Quinnipiac survey of likely Iowa GOP caucus-goers.
Bush also has a long way to go. According to the same poll, he came in with 10% support in a hypothetical GOP contest, well behind Walker at 25% and closer to Paul (13%), Huckabee (11%) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (11%).
Political observers will also be watching to see what Christie says about the issue. He has largely refused to talk about it, saying he doesn’t plan to discuss his stance until he’s a candidate. Meanwhile Walker admitted recently that his “view has changed” on immigration, saying he no longer supports provisions that would allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States.
Walker was widely considered the breakout star at the last forum in Iowa, a wave of approval he’s still riding more than a month afterward, thanks in part to his strategy of attacking the media after he made controversial comments.
The Wisconsin governor, who first came onto the national political scene during his 2012 battle with public unions, received sky-high favorability ratings in the poll, with 57% saying they viewed him in a favorable light compared to 7% who didn’t.
Poll numbers this early rarely represent strong indicators of the final outcome of the nomination process, but they can provide a small window into the political climate at the time.
After the summit on Saturday, he attends two other events that will put him directly in contact with more Iowans, holding a private event at a local barbeque joint in Waukee and later participating in a meet and greet at a Pizza Ranch in Cedar Rapids.
Secretary of State John Kerry escalated the war of words between the U.S. and Israel on Wednesday, questioning Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judgment on Iran and using the Iraq war to slam the Israeli leader’s record.
Kerry’s comments come amidst increasing discord between the Obama administration and the Israeli government as the U.S. tries to forge a nuclear deal with Tehran. Netanyahu, in a move that has greatly displeased the White House, is expected to sound the alarm over Iran and negotiations underway in Geneva in an address to Congress next week.
Kerry told a House committee the prime minister “may have a judgment that just may not be correct here.”
The Secretary of State also dredged up the ghosts of Iraq. Netanyau, he said, “was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush. And we all know what happened with that decision.”
It should not be forgotten that Kerry himself voted to authorize military action in Iraq, before voting a year later against $87 billion in funding for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A fact many people claim cost him the 2004 presidential race to George W. Bush. At the time, Kerry said he voted against that measure because it would have financed the war with borrowed money however; he voted for a defeated alternative that would have rolled back some of Bush’s tax cuts to pay for the conflict. Voters seemed less than convinced at the time handing the election to Bush, so perhaps invoking Iraq to attack Netanyahu was perhaps a mist-step at the very least.
The six major powers negotiating with Iran have set the end of March as a deadline to reach a framework accord on the nuclear issue. The United States and Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia hope to secure an accord to restrain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Washington suspects Iran may be trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran, however, has said its program is for peaceful purposes.
Kerry said he expected to leave Saturday to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about Syria, attend a U.N. Human Rights Council gathering and also hold nuclear negotiations with Iran. He did not say where those meetings would take place.
The chief U.S. diplomat also raised the possibility that members of the Syrian opposition or the Islamic State group might have used chlorine, which is not defined as a chemical weapon but can be toxic depending on how it is treated.
“The bulk of their use has been by the (Syrian) regime but it is not exclusive. It appears as if there has been some by the opposition or by ISIS,” Kerry said, using another acronym for the Islamic State group.
Netanyahu deployed his own harsh rhetoric on Wednesday to rebuff the White House’s position. He said that though world powers had undertaken an effort to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, “it appears they have given up on this commitment” and are accepting that Iran will develop such capabilities in the coming year.
“Maybe they accept it. I am not ready to accept it,” he said. “I must do everything to prevent such a great danger for Israel.”
The charged statements from the two statesmen came the day after National Security Adviser Susan Rice called Netanyahu’s trip to Congress “destructive.”
Rice said Tuesday that Netanyahu’s decision to accept a unilateral invitation from House Speaker John Boehner behind the back of President Barack Obama and his administration injected politics and “a degree of partisanship” into the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
“What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the Speaker, the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu on two weeks in advance of his election, is that on both sides there has now been injected a degree of partisanship which is not only unfortunate but it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” Rice said in an interview with Charlie Rose on PBS.
Rice added that the relationship between Israel and the U.S. “has always been bipartisan.”
Administration officials and American diplomats were fuming after Boehner announced that Netanyahu would address Congress about Iran. Obama asked Netanyahu over the phone just about a week before to give him some space on negotiations with Iran and not lobby against his position, and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer met with Secretary of State John Kerry just a day before without mentioning plans for the address.
Some Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Patrick Leahy, plan to skip Netanyahu’s address because of the snub and because Netanyahu will be directly opposing Obama’s diplomatic efforts on Iran. Israeli leaders, including former President Shimon Peres, have criticized Netanyahu’s visit as damaging to the relationship with the United States.
Netanyahu is looking to capitalize on his visit as the Israelis head to the polls just two weeks later. Netanyahu has already made a point of emphasizing his decision to keep the visit on his schedule in the face of opposition from Obama and Democrats in statements and in postings on social media.
In a televised address earlier this month, Netanyhau cited a “profound disagreement” with the U.S. administration and the five powers negotiating with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions.
“I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President, but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country,” Netanyahu said.
Opening a new military front in the Middle East, President Barack Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria for the first time Wednesday night, along with expanded strikes in Iraq as part of “a steady, relentless effort” to root out Islamic State extremists and their spreading reign of terror.
“We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Obama declared in a prime-time address to the nation from the White House. “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
Obama announced that he was dispatching nearly 500 more U.S. troops to advise and assist Iraqi security forces, as well as conduct intelligence and reconnaissance flights, bringing the total number of American forces sent there this summer to more than 1,500. He also urged Congress anew to authorize a program to train and arm Syrian rebels who are fighting both the Islamic State militants and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Obama’s plans amounted to a striking shift for a president who rose to political prominence in part because of his early opposition to the Iraq war. While in office, he has steadfastly sought to wind down American military campaigns in the Middle East and avoid new wars, particularly in Syria, a country where the chaos of an intractable civil war has given the Islamic State space to thrive and move freely across the border with Iraq.
Speaking on the eve of the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Obama’s plans were also an admission that years of American-led war in the Middle East have not quelled the terror threat emanating from the region.
Obama insisted that his plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State militants would not involve returning U.S. combat troops to the Middle East. Even so, he acknowledged that “any time we take military action, there are risks involved, especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions.”
“But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil,” he added.
The president’s speech, which lasted about 15 minutes, followed a summer of deliberation at the White House over how to respond to the violent Islamic State militants. While administration officials have said they are not aware of a credible threat of a potential attack by the militants in the U.S., they say the group poses risks to Americans and interests across the Middle East. Officials are also concerned about the prospect that Westerners, including Americans, who have joined the militant group could return to their home countries to launch attacks.
In recent weeks, the militants have released videos depicting the beheading of two American journalists in Syria. The violent images appear to have had an impact on a formerly war-weary public, with multiple polls in recent days showing that the majority of Americans support airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria.
Officials said Obama plans to proceed with both the broader airstrikes in Iraq and the strikes in Syria without seeking new authorization from Congress. Instead, he is to act under a use-of-force authorization Congress passed in the days after 9/11 to give President George W. Bush the ability to go after those who perpetrated the terror attacks. Obama has previously called for that authorization to be repealed, but he has also used it as support for strikes against terror targets in Yemen and Somalia.
Obama said his approach in Syria is modeled after those long-running U.S. counterterrorism campaigns. But it is different in important ways, starting with the fact that it marks the first time since 9/11 that a U.S. president has authorized the bombing of terror targets in another nation without seeking permission or at least notifying it in advance.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, praised Obama for acknowledging the “grave and growing threat” that Islamic extremists pose, but he said Obama was coming to that conclusion far too late.
“He has finally begun to make the case the nation has needed him to make for quite some time: that destroying this terrorist threat requires decisive action and must be the highest priority for the United States and other nations of the free world,” Boehner said.
Boehner’s sentiments were echoed by Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who said Obama “got some key things right” but that his plan will not be sufficient to completely destroy the terror group. They insisted additional steps are necessary.
“The president’s plan will help us achieve these vital goals, but only if he remains committed to fully implementing every aspect of that plan,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “Half measures against ISIS only make it stronger and will not lead to its destruction.”
McCain told Fox News’ Sean Hannity he is “very worried” about using what he called “half measures” to attempt to counter the Islamic State threat, but Obama’s plan is better than the status quo.
“The status quo is unacceptable,” McCain, R-Ariz., said. “All I know is, although I am very, very skeptical I’m willing to give it a try.”
Obama is seeking authorization from Congress for a Pentagon-led effort to train and arm more moderate elements of the Syrian opposition. Even before his remarks, congressional leaders were grappling with whether to support that request and if so, how to get such a measure through the fractured legislature before the November elections.
France’s foreign minister said Wednesday that his country was ready to take part in airstrikes against extremist fighters in Iraq if needed. And the German government announced that it was sending assault rifles, ammunition, anti-tank weapons and armored vehicles to Kurdish forces in Iraq fighting, breaking with Berlin’s previous reluctance to send weapons into conflicts.
Quinnipiac Poll reveals President Obama Worst President Since World War II, President Reagan the Best
President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, and the United States would have been better off if his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, had won the election in 2012, a new Quinnipiac University national poll released today reveals.
The best president? Ronald Reagan.
“Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipac University Poll.
“Would Mitt have been a better fit? More voters in hindsight say yes,” Malloy said.
Out of 1,446 registered voters surveyed nationwide from June 24-30, 33 percent deemed Obama as the worst president, while another 28 percent picked former President George W. Bush as the worst, Quinnipiac reported Wednesday.
In addition, 45 percent of the voters said the country would be better off if Romney won in 2012, and 38 percent said the country would be worse off.
The choice was sharply divided among party lines, with Republicans choosing Romney by 84 percent to 5 percent and Democrats choosing Obama by 74 percent to 10 percent. Independent voters came in with a 47 percent to 33 percent nod to Romney.
Overall, Reagan topped voters’ pick for the best president since World War II, with 35 percent of the voters choosing him. Trailing Reagan were former presidents Bill Clinton at 18 percent, 15 percent for John F. Kennedy and just 8 percent for Obama. Among Democrats, 34 percent picked Clinton as the best president, followed by 18 percent each for Obama and Kennedy.
Meanwhile, among the Republicans polled, an overwhelming 66 percent chose Reagan as the best president. He was followed distantly by former President George H.W. Bush and Kennedy, with 6 percent each, and Obama and Dwight D. Eisenhower, who tied at 4 percent each.
George W. Bush and Obama, compared side-by-side, came out very closely matched among the voters polled. Thirty-nine percent said Obama has been a better president than Bush, while 40 percent said he was worse.
Obama has been a better president than the junior Bush, 39 percent of voters say, while 40 percent say he is worse. Obama fared better with women voters, with 42 percent-38 percent saying he has been a better president than Bush. With men, 43 percent said Obama is worse worse than Bush, while 36 said he is better.
The Bush/Obama comparison fell mainly along party lines. Republicans said Obama is worse than Bush by 79 percent to 7 percent, while independent voters said Obama is worse by 41 percent to 31 percent.
Meanwhile, the Democrats polled said Obama is better than Bush was by 78 percent to 4 percent.
The voters did say, by 37 percent to 34 percent, that Obama is better for the economy than Bush.
Voters say by a narrow 37 – 34 percent that Obama is better for the economy than Bush.
American voters say 54 – 44 percent that the Obama Administration is not competent running the government. The president is paying attention to what his administration is doing, 47 percent say, while 48 percent say he does not pay enough attention.
The poll showed Obama’s job approval rating is stalled at a negative 40 percent to 53 percent.
His rating hit an all- time low in December 2013 of 38-57 percent, Quinnipiac reports, and an April 2 national survey put the presidents rating at a negative 42-50 percent.
President Obama’s job approval rating, inching up since a negative 38 – 57 percent in December, 2013, his all-time low, is stalled at a negative 40 – 53 percent. This compares to the president’s negative 42 – 50 percent job approval in an April 2 national survey.
Obama netted negative scores of 10 percent to 88 percent from Republicans, 31-59 percent from independents, 37-57 percent from men and 42-49 percent from women. But Democrats approve of him by 79-13 percent, the poll said.
Obama got mixed grade for his character, with voters split 48-48 percent on his being honest and trustworthy and 51-47 percent that he cares about their needs. But as far as his leadership qualities, Obama got a negative 47-51 percent. The president gets mixed grades for character as voters say 48 – 48 percent that he is honest and trustworthy and 51 – 47 percent that he cares about their needs and problems. He gets a negative 47 – 51 percent for leadership qualities.
The president also got negative grades for how he handles most key issues, including 40-55 percent for handling the economy; 37-57 percent for foreign policy; 40-58 percent for healthcare; and 44-51 percent for terrorism. He netted a positive rating of 50-4 percent for how he handles the environment.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has been dogged by Republican questions about her health and age as she mulls a run at the presidency in 2016, told ABC in an interview on Friday that her health is “very good.”
Clinton added that she had “no lingering effects” from a late-2012 health scare in which she suffered a blood clot as the result of a fall. Karl Rove, the well-known Republican strategist, questioned whether Clinton was healthy enough to run for president, something the former first lady is admittedly considering.
If she runs, Clinton said she would release her medical records.
“I would do what other candidates have done, absolutely,” she told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a clip that aired Friday. In the interview, Clinton described the fall and the recovery at length.
“It was, I think, a serious concussion,” Clinton said. “Because of the force of the fall, I had double vision for a short period of time and I had some dizziness.”
She said she did not have headaches or any trouble talking.
Because of Clinton’s history of blood clots – she suffered a large blood clot behind her right knee and was rushed to Bethesda Naval Hospital outside Washington in 1998 – the former senator said she will probably be on blood thinners for the rest of her life.
Clinton also responded to questions about Bowe Bergdahl, the American soldier who was held by the Taliban for five years. The Obama administration traded five detainees from the prison in Guantanamo Bay for the soldier. Some have questioned the circumstances around Bergdahl’s capture, and the prisoner trade has raised a number of questions among lawmakers and pundits.
Clinton, however, backed the trade in the interview.
“If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values,” she said. “And one of our values is we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn’t matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.”
She added, “It doesn’t matter. We bring our people home.”
In the three-minute clip, Clinton also took on multiple Republican critics of her age and health.
Clinton has no ill words for Rove, President George W. Bush’s close aide and senior adviser.
“I know he was called Bush’s brain in one of the books written about him and I wish him well,” Clinton said with a laugh.
Clinton joked about a comment made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said the Democratic field in 2016 looks like “a rerun of the ‘Golden Girls,'” a 1980s sitcom about older women who were divorced or widowed.
“That was a very popular, long-running TV series,” she said.
The former defense secretary writes that Obama “eventually lost faith in the troop increase he ordered in Afghanistan, his doubts fed by top White House civilian advisers opposed to the strategy, who continually brought him negative news reports suggesting it was failing,” reports The NYT, which obtained an early copy of the memoir.
In a passage about a key meeting in March of 2011, Gates writes that “as I sat there, I thought: The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand (Afghan President Hamid) Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.”
Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was “skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”
Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in mid-2011. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” Gates writes.
As a candidate, Obama had made plain his opposition to the 2003 Iraq invasion while embracing the Afghanistan war as a necessary response to the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, requiring even more military resources to succeed. In Gates’s highly emotional account, Obama remains uncomfortable with the inherited wars and distrustful of the military that is providing him options. Their different worldviews produced a rift that, at least for Gates, became personally wounding and impossible to repair.
It is rare for a former Cabinet member, let alone a defense secretary occupying a central position in the chain of command, to publish such an antagonistic portrait of a sitting president.
Gates also writes that “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission,” the Post reports.
The Times reports that Gates also has critical things to say about Vice President Biden, Obama’s national security staff, Congress, and President George W. Bush, who first appointed Gates as defense secretary.
Biden is “a man of integrity,” Gates writes, but “I think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
The national security staff is “filled primarily by former Hill staffers, academics and political operatives,” and has engaged in “micromanagement of military matters — a combination that had proven disastrous in the past,” writes Gates, according to theTimes.
The newspaper notes that Gates considers many members of Congress to be calm and thoughtful in public, “but when they went into an open hearing, and the little red light went on atop a television camera, it had the effect of a full moon on a werewolf.”
“Mr. Gates is a bipartisan critic of the two presidents he served as defense secretary, George W. Bush and Mr. Obama. He holds the Bush administration responsible for misguided policy that squandered the early victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, although he credits Mr. Bush for ordering a troop surge in Iraq that contributed to averting collapse of the mission. …
“Mr. Gates does not spare himself from criticism, going beyond the typical political autobiography designed to sell as a kiss-and-tell narrative or to burnish a questionable legacy.
“He describes how he came to feel ‘an overwhelming sense of personal responsibility’ for the troops he ordered into combat, which left him misty-eyed when discussing their sacrifices and perhaps clouded his judgment when coldhearted national security interests were at stake.”