Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made it clear Monday night that he takes claims of Russian meddling in the presidential election with a grain of salt.
“The Ruskies are out there sticking things in people’s brains?’ I mean, come on,” Bush said during an appearance Monday in Kingsport, Tenn.
Bush, a candidate in the Republican primary, said the election was not about who the Russians wanted to win, but who America’s voters chose.
“They [the Russians] had a candidate that they thought would be better than Hillary Clinton, but they didn’t influence the election. The American people made up their minds on this,” he said.
Bush also refused to join the chorus of criticism over Trump’s secretary of state choice, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who has conducted business with Russia and was honored by Russia for his partnership efforts. He said that upcoming hearings will get to the truth.
“My guess is what they’ll find is a guy with vast experience. A patriot. … Someone who will represent the U.S. really, very well,” he said.
Bush, who was a foil for Trump’s jabs throughout the Republican presidential primary process, noted that his opinion of Trump is shifting.
“I didn’t vote for him. I made it clear I wasn’t going to support him. In my mind at that time I didn’t think either candidate passed the threshold of who should be sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office,” Bush said.
“Now, he’s won. My hope and prayer each and every day is that he understands the incredible opportunity he has to serve, that he has a servant’s heart and that he leads,” he added.
Bush said the difference between campaigning and governing will be a test for Trump.
“It’s going to be tough. I hope he realizes his words have big consequences,” he said. “There are a lot of people counting on the restoration of economic lift.”
Bush has even found reason to sound cautiously optimistic.
“He’s appointed some really solid, committed conservatives to his cabinet and for that I’m very grateful,” Bush said. “Our economy has lagged behind because of over regulation and I think his appointments suggest that he’s serious about draining the swamp. So I’m excited about that.”
Bush also said he looks forward to a better healthcare system.
“Obamacare will be repealed, but this is somewhat a question of semantics. You can’t repeal it completely,” Bush said, adding that parts of Obamacare will remain in any new healthcare system. “My guess is this is going to take a few years, so you’ll see, hopefully, something that takes the power out of Washington and empower people to make these decisions.”
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