Politics & Policy

Jeb Bush to NR: ‘I Just Think You’re Wrong on Immigration’

(Pete Marovich)

Prospective Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush clashed with National Review editor-in-chief Rich Lowry over immigration policy on Thursday, telling Lowry “I love you. I just think you’re wrong on immigration.”

In an interview at the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit,at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C., the former Florida governor spoke about his policy positions and his plans for a potential presidential administration.

RELATED: More coverage of the NRI Ideas Summit

Lowry and the audience were in broad agreement with the governor on foreign policy and most economic issues. Bush voiced his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and stressed the need to confront Islamic terrorism — poking fun at “the girl with the really cool glasses in the State Department,” Foggy Bottom spokeswoman Marie Harf, for refusing to accurately characterize the threat. And he decried economic over-regulation and “the New Normal” of a deflated American economy. “’The New Normal’ makes me nauseous,” he said.

But while the interview remained cordial throughout, the governor and Lowry tussled over immigration policy and tax pledges.

“This isn’t a zero-sum game,” Bush said, taking issue with Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s contention that an immigration policy should, first and foremost, be based on protecting American workers and American wages. “[If] you want to grow at 4 percent instead of 2 percent per year, you need younger, more dynamic people inside of our economy to get to 4 percent growth,” he said.

“You can’t do it with a declining population, you can’t do it with a pathetic productivity rate,” he continued, warning that America ran the risk of going the way of Japan and parts of Europe if it didn’t institute immigration reforms.

#related#“I love you, and I love National Review,” Bush said. “But I just think you’re wrong on immigration, to be honest with you. And you think I’m wrong. But I respect you.”

Lowry also asked the former Florida governor about his resistance to signing the famous “tax pledge” offered by Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist, who asks all candidates to sign an agreement not to raise taxes while in office.

“I’m not going to change my views on that,” Bush said, calling it a principled opposition to pledges of that sort. “My record is clear,” he continued, pointing to the billions in taxes he cut during his tenure as governor. “My record is better than anybody else.”

“If you’ve served in the United States Senate over the last eight years, six years, no tax cut has taken place,” Bush said, taking a veiled shot at the Senate Republicans likely to challenge him for the GOP nomination. “Anybody associated with Washington, D.C. can talk about this stuff. But places where taxes have actually been cut are places like Florida, run by conservative governors.”

— Brendan Bordelon is a political reporter for National Review.

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