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Jeb Bush says he's "evolved" on out-of-wedlock births

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Thursday that his views have "evolved" since writing a 1995 book in which he claimed that lack of shame led to a rise in women giving birth out of wedlock and single men shirking their parental duties.

"As it relates to the book, the book was written in 1995, my views have evolved over time. But my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of children hasn't changed at all," Bush said, adding that the country has moved in the "wrong direction" because more women are having children while not married.

"It's a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we're in today. And it hurts the prospects, it limits the possibilities of young people being able to live lives of purpose and meaning," he said, noting that Florida's response to the problem was to increase the amount of child support being collected. "To assume that you can create a fatherless society and not have bad outcomes is the wrong approach," he said.

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In his 1995 book, "Profiles in Character," Bush wrote, "One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame. Many of these young women and young men look around and see their friends engaged in the same irresponsible conduct. Their parents and neighbors have become ineffective at attaching some sense of ridicule to this behavior. There was a time when neighbors and communities would frown on out of wedlock births and when public condemnation was enough of a stimulus for one to be careful."

The former governor commented on the book to reporters while traveling through Europe on a trip that takes him to Germany, Poland and Estonia. He plans to return to the U.S. on Saturday and announce his presidential campaign on Monday.

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Bush also reflected on his brother George W. Bush's 2001 claim that he had looked into the eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin and "was able to get a sense of his soul."

"I think Putin has changed, for sure. He's changed over time," Bush said. "He's been emboldened by the fact that we're, whether it's true or not, the perception that we've pulled back. People do change and this is an example of that for sure."

During a speech Tuesday to the Economic Council of the Christian Democratic Party's Annual Conference, Bush called Putin a "ruthless pragmatist" who will "push until someone pushes back" -- that is, until the U.S. and Europe do more to deter him in Ukraine.

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