Jeb Bush on Obama: "Spent most of his time ... dividing the country"


(CBS News) Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush led hurricane recovery in his state several times and on Thursday, Bush joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss the recovery on the east coast after Hurricane Sandy and to look ahead to next week's presidential election.

In terms of how New York and New Jersey officials are handling the cleanup efforts in Sandy's wake, Bush said they "appear to me to be stepping up" and maintained that the priority right now should be "more than anything else, getting power back up." "There's going to be some real conflicts in the weeks to come about insurance ... but right now I think the focus is how do you get power back on as quickly as possible ... so you can restore some aspect of life that's ordinary," Bush explained.

Bush touched on New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie, and his recent praise of President Obama's handling of the disaster. On Wednesday, Obama joined Christie to tour the damage in New Jersey.

"That's more symbolism than anything else because of course the federal government is going to provide support ... you're not going to ask the president to make sure that the New Jersey Turnpike has power on, that's not his job ... but it is his job to symbolically be the counselor-in-chief ... having the president on the ground makes all the sense in the world. So, I thought it was appropriate for the Gov. Christie to invite him," Bush said.

Bush has been campaigning with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and said he was recently surprised by the crowd response at Romney-Ryan campaign events. Despite the "partisan Republican conservative crowds," in attendance at the events, he said "I was struck by their response to his appeal to bipartisanship ... I think the country, irrespective of ideology is yearning for political figures to be creative and innovative and determined to find common ground." Turning to President Obama, he said, "I think the president has spent most of his time explaining away why it hasn't worked the way he wanted and dividing the country"

Bush is confident about Romney's chance in what he calls a "really close" upcoming election and maintains that Romney will "win by a large margin" among independent voters. "I do feel that momentum has been on Gov. Romney's side," he said, "and I do think at the end ... challengers are the ones who pick up ground." He also added that despite being "slow to respond to the attacks of the president in July and August," Romney has "found his rhythm" and in recent days has struck a "more conciliatory ... tone that's more positive."

Bush spoke of the influence of the Hispanic vote and said that "based on press accounts, it looks as though the turnout in Nevada for President Obama among Hispanics may be a deciding factor ... in Florida, the gap has narrowed significantly and Governor Romney is doing much better among Hispanics here."