Reporting from Washington — Jeb Bush is ruling out a presidential bid in 2012, but he sounds bullish about the future of another Florida Republican, describing Senate nominee Marco Rubio as "Reaganesque."
The former two-term governor and brother of former President George W. Bush said in an interview with MSNBC's Joe Scarborough that although he would not run for president, he does plan to be active in the political scene.
"I'm troubled about the future of our country. I think we're stuck when we need to be explosively moving forward to transform how we do things," he said.
He urged fellow Republicans to stay focused on criticizing the policies now coming out of Washington, saying he was troubled by ongoing discussions about President Obama's upbringing and religion. Without getting too specific, he criticized "massive increases in spending," financial regulatory reform and new "social initiatives," issues that he said have been obscured by other topics.
"It's OK to fight back. There's enough low-hanging fruit there; to get diverted onto all these other topics is not just bad for the ability to ultimately find common ground, but it's bad politics," he said.
Bush offered Rubio, the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, as someone with the kind of "hopeful, optimistic" message with which Republicans can grow the party in the future.
"[It's] not a message of despair or pessimism or against the president as its organizing principle, but a message based on American exceptionalism," he said. "It's very Reaganesque if you hear him speak."
A new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday morning showed Rubio with a growing lead in his race for Senate. In the three-candidate field, 46% of respondents who said identified themselves as likely voters said they would support him, while 33% said they would back independent candidate Charlie Crist and 18% supported Democrat Kendrick Meek.