Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said that the Republican Party needs to do a better job of bringing more racial and ethnic diversity to the Party in a Sunday interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." In particular, he spoke about his party's dwindling support among Latinos, implying that some Republicans have conveyed anti-Latino messages in their public rhetoric on immigration.
"You can't ask people to join your cause and then send a signal that you're really not wanted. It just doesn't work," Bush said.
Bush has been at the forefront of an effort within the Republican Party to reach out to Latino voters. He favors comprehensive immigration reform, much like his brother, former President George W. Bush. Jeb Bush is also married to a Mexican-American, Columba Bush, and has three Latino children, George P., Noelle and John.
In the interview, Bush said Republican weakness among non-white voters will not impact this election, but will be important in future elections as white voters become a decreasing proportion of the electorate.
"I'm concerned about it over the long haul for sure. Our demographics are changing and we have to change, not necessarily our core beliefs, but the tone of our message and the message, the intensity of it, for sure. ... Long term, conservative principles, if they're to be successful and implemented, there has to be a concerted effort to reach out a much broader audience than we do today," Bush said.
On immigration reform, Bush said the country needs border security to give Americans confidence in immigration reform measures to deal with current undocumented immigrants. He also favors increasing legal immigration and believes immigrants will help the economy, which, in turn, will help with other fiscal challenges.
"Then you can develop a strategy that's part of economic growth. That's where we need to be focusing. We need young aspirational people to come to our country so that we can grow over a sustained period of time at a high rate that will allow us to create jobs without raising taxes, balance the budget, do all the things that we want to do," Bush explained.
Bush was also asked how he felt about President Barack Obama blaming his brother for the state of the economy.
"I think it's time for him to move on," Bush said. "The guy was dealt a difficult hand, no question about it. But, he's had three years. His policies have failed. And, rather than blame others – I know we were taught that that was unbecoming – over time you can't just keep doing that. Maybe offer some fresh new solutions to the problems we face."
During the Republican National Convention this week in Tampa, the Hispanic Leadership Network and American Action Network will co-host events on Tuesday where Bush will be speaking.