Jeb Bush Says America Is World's 'Best Hope' for Religious Freedom; It's 'Non-Negotiable'

(Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush talks to the media after visiting Integra Biosciences during a campaign stop in Hudson, New Hampshire, March 13, 2015.

In an interview with Focus on the Family's Jim Daly, to be aired Monday but CP obtained an early copy of the audio recording, likely Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush says the United States is the best hope the world has for religious freedom, which is a "non-negotiable point" for him. He also speaks against the killing of unborn children and assisted suicides.

"I don't think being judgmental and kind of coming down from the podium and telling them how it's gonna be is the proper approach," the former Florida governor says, of how he dealt with the issue of unborn children and assisted suicide when he was in office.

"You need to be respectful of the fact that in a diverse society people have different views about this," he adds in the interview. "But I don't think you pull back from your deeply held views. You need to persuade people that protecting an innocent child is a definition of who we are in the broadest possible sense."

Bush explained he operated within the scope of his powers as governor and out of "deeply held beliefs that are informed by my faith."

Bush visited Focus on the Family Tuesday as the pro-life community observed the 10th anniversary of the death of Theresa Marie "Terri" Schiavo.

Terri was diagnosed to be in vegetative state in 1990. In 1998, her husband, Michael, petitioned the Sixth Circuit Court of Florida to remove her feeding tube. Terri's parents opposed her husband, who argued that she was conscious. After a long legal battle, the feeding tube was disconnected in March 2005 based on a court order, and she died.

"Almost every week there's an example of conflicting rights under the law. And I think in the case of unborn children, who are the most vulnerable," Bush says, as he talks about the right to life. "I think this is an issue not just among the unborn but also people that … there's a big movement now, increasing number of assisted suicides. The most vulnerable in our society need to be protected. They need to have legal rights, and as a society we need to recognize their value and their worth."

Focus on the Family and its constituents were involved in the efforts to save Terri, and Bush tried to use his executive powers to preserve her life.

"Almost every week there's an example of conflicting rights under the law," Bush acknowledges in the interview. "And I think, in the case of unborn children, who are the most vulnerable ... I think this is an issue not just among the unborn but also people that … there's a big movement now, increasing number of assisted suicides. The most vulnerable in our society need to be protected. They need to have legal rights, and as a society we need to recognize their value and their worth."

Regarding his concerns in the area of religious freedom, Bush says it's a global issue, including the ongoing unprecedented persecution of Christians, which is about religious freedom.

Religious freedom is crucial in the United States because "we are the last great, best hope for freedom and we've been that way for a long while that amongst ourselves we have to figure out how we can sort out the fact that people are not going to be discriminated against under the law, and that people have the right space to act on their conscience. It is a non-negotiable point," Bush adds.

Talking about the immigration issue, the former governor mentions that he met his wife for the first time in Mexico when he was 17, and she was 16. He said he fell in love with her "at first sight."

Bush also talks about his relationship with his brother, former President George W. Bush.

He is the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Meanwhile, Bush lists failings of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a 50-second video released Sunday.

"In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to an exchange of ideas and substantive policy proposals. I believe that every American deserves the right to rise and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream and that, abroad, America should be respected by our allies and feared by our enemies," he says.

"That's why it's critical we change the direction our country is heading. … We must do better than the Obama-Clinton foreign policy that has damaged relationships with our allies and emboldened our enemies. Better than their failed, big-government policies that grow our debt and stand in the way of real economy growth and prosperity. I believe it's conservative ideas that will renew America, grow our economy, put our fiscal house in order and make our great country even stronger," he adds in the video.