As governor in his second term in Florida, Bush had to handle no less than seven major hurricanes ripping through the Sunshine State in 2004-2005, and knows how the state had to work with the federal government for relief. So he's got little patience for conservative columnists and talk-show callers who have been blasting New Jersey GOP Governor Chris Christie this week for his praise of President Obama in trying to help the Garden State through its time of challenge in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
"That's wrong," the Governor told CL outside La Segunda Bakery in Tampa's Ybor City early Saturday morning, where he was joined by Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, and Congressional District 14 candidate E.J. Otero in a tour of local areas to get out the vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket in Florida.
"I know what it’s like to do what Governor Christie is going through right now," Bush continued, looking clearly pained to hear the criticism of the New Jersey Governor by Romney partisans.
"I know we're in the middle of an election, but you get elected to serve. To say to the President of the United States 'no, you can't come to my state?' It would be completely wrong," he said, shaking his head.
Among Christie's harshest critics has been the Daily Caller's Matt Lewis, who wrote on Friday that while Christie's embrace of the president this past week may pave the way for his re-election as governor in New Jersey next year, it complicates any future aspirations to win the GOP nomination for president.
Saying he gives Christie great credit, Bush said that people have to accept the fact that "it's not all about politics all the time," and said during a time of crisis when people are fearful and in need "you want people to put aside the partisan differences, so I don’t know why people always feel there’s a political angle to everything."
In his short speech in the very crowded bakery on 15th Street in Tampa, Bush praised Romney for being a leader who will be bipartisan and work with Democrats, citing his work with a majority Democratic legislature when he served as governor of Massachusetts, as well as his work in business, where Bush said Romney could have never had a take-it-or-leave it attitude and hoped to be successful.
After the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported yesterday that unemployment was at 7.9 percent with 171,000 new jobs created in September, some economists have suggested that it's a fact that whoever takes the White House in January will certainly be inheriting a more positive economic future than what was handed to Barack Obama in January of 2009, months after the country was rocked by the financial crises.
CL asked the former Florida governor if he agreed with that premise, since he has gone on the campaign trail this week to blast President Obama for always blaming his brother, former President George W. Bush, for the economic woes that he's attempted to deal with over the past four years.
Bush did not agree with the premise.
"For four years we’ve had the worst recovery in modern times. Presidents learn that without leadership, we can’t solve problems, and this president has spent a lot of energy around blaming others for the tepid recovery that we have." Bush added that "of course there's been a rebound," but emphasized that it was still the "worst" economic recovery the country has ever had.
Bush and Adam Putnam were positively buzzing about Mitt Romney's chances in Florida now, boosted by a poll in today's Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald that shows the Republican up by six points in the Sunshine State, 51-45 percent (A Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll has Obama up by 2 points in Florida, 49-47 percent).
Putnam says he was "pleasantly surprised" by that six-point gap, saying, "If it's that big, it has enormous implications for down ballot. Bill Nelson can't be happy with a six-point lead for Mitt Romney," referring to the Democratic incumbent running against Republican Connie Mack IV.
Lieutenant Governor Carroll stuck to the GOP talking points on why it's better to have fewer days of early voting, even though it's more popular than ever. Citing statistics showing the record early turnout, Carroll said that validated the Legislature's wisdom in passing SB 1355 last year, the controversial elections bill.
And Bush said there was no reason to keep the polls open tomorrow as requested by Democrats. "I don't think we need to," again citing the record high numbers of people who have already cast ballots.
Bush looked a bit disgusted when asked why Rick Scott hasn't campaigned at all with Mitt Romney. Reportedly Scott will join Romney in Sanford on Monday.