Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on the list of dark horse candidates of many Republicans eager for him to challenge President Obama in 2012, has rejected his mother's slap down of Sarah Palin, calling the Tea Party favorite's political skills "fantastic." In an obvious but diplomatic counter to former first lady Barbara Bush's wish that Palin would hole up in Alaska and not run for president, Bush heaped praise on the former Alaska governor who tops many 2012 presidential popularity polls. [See photos of Sarah Palin.]
"She has an incredible skill to connect with people. She has fantastic political instincts, I think," he told NewsmaxTV, the conservative news site that's been parading potential 2012 presidential candidates through it's Florida offices. Palin, in fact, was the last likely White House hopeful to grant an interview and GOP political advisers said that Jeb Bush's stop by was another indication that he is seriously considering a bid.
While he covered a broad range of issues, it was Bush's handling of Barbara Bush's comments about Palin during an interview with CNN's Larry King that gave Newsmax editors their headline. Barbara Bush said: "Well, I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful, and I think she's very happy in Alaska. And I hope she'll stay there." [See a slide show of 10 reasons Palin would make a good president.]
Palin and her fans lashed out at Bush for the comment and Jeb Bush bobbed and weaved in order to keep giving Palin praise, saying: "You're not going to get me in trouble with disagreeing with my beloved mother of 85 years, who occasionally from time to time says things that give us all great joy, and sometimes some consternation." [See a slide show of 10 reasons Palin would make a bad president.]
He added that Palin deserves credit for taking criticism leveled at her and turning it into a "strength." See the interview here.
Bush has said he isn't interested in running for president, but close associates say that he hasn't totally ruled a race out, though he first wants to make sure his family is set financially before taking on another political race. Often called the "smart Bush" who's presidential chances seemed to die with the unpopularity of his brother, the former president, public dissatisfaction with Obama has some in the party cheering his candidacy on.
In Whispers pollster John Zogby's latest poll, Bush ties Obama at 38 percent.