Unshackled, Jeb Bush offers light praise, advice for Obama

Jeb Bush on VP slot: "I'm not going to do it"
Former Fla. Gov. Jeb
CBS News

(CBS News) Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sure looks like a politician who is not running for office. In a wide ranging interview with Charlie Rose for "CBS This Morning," Bush offered some light praise for President Obama and said he thinks Republicans should be willing to raise revenue to get the deficit down.

The brother of the Mr. Obama's predecessor noted that Mr. Obama had chosen the head of the Chicago public school system, Arne Duncan, as his education secretary and they had worked to focus more on school children and less on the adults running the schools.

"Any time an elected official in the world we're in today that appears so dysfunctional challenges a core constituency not of their opponent but of their own political base, I think we should pause and give them credit," Bush said.

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The comments came after Rose pointed to comments Bush had made in April praising Duncan and saying the Obama administration had done "a pretty good job" on education policy.

That was a "pretty articulate quote. Are you sure it was mine?" Bush joked to Rose when presented with the earlier comments.

Bush also expressed optimism that Republicans and Democrats would come together in the next couple of years to make a "grand bargain" to bring down government spending over time.

"Here's what I know to be true. Next year or the year after there's going to have to be a grand bargain. We are on an unsustainable course. It is not possible to continue to do what we are going-- what we're doing today. It's just not possible," Bush said.

"And I think most people that have looked at our structural deficit problems would admit it. If they were put on a lie detector or, you know, under oath or something like that, they would admit it," he said.

Asked about comments to Congress that he would be willing to take a hypothetical $10 in budget cuts for every $1 in higher revenue, Bush said his willingness to take that deal shows that he is no longer seeking office as a Republican.

"It was living proof I'm not running for anything I think more than anything else," Bush said.

Many Republicans refuse to take that deal because they have vowed to never raise taxes for any reason.

The former politician, who flatly ruled out a run as Mitt Romney's running mate in the interview, noted that he now has the luxury of being able to say what he thinks and is not constrained by political ambitions.

"I don't have to play the game of being 100,000 percent against President Obama. I got a long list of things that I think he's done wrong. And I, with civility and respect, I will point those out if I'm asked. But on the things that I think he's done a good job on, I-- I'm not gonna just say, 'no, no,' " Bush said.

And he said President Obama should do the same for his brother.

"I think it would help him politically. For example, when he was gracious at the unveiling of the portrait, you know, there's no way not to be gracious I guess in that kind of setting," Bush said, referring to a recent ceremony at the White House to unveil the official portrait of former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush.

"But it helps," he said, calling it "just a small acknowledgement that the guy that, you know, that you replaced isn't the source of every problem that-- and-- and the excuse of why you're not being successful I think would help him politically."

Rose noted that Mr. Obama has said he has modeled his foreign policy on his father, former President George H.W. Bush.

"I don't think he's been a good-- as good at it, if it's-- modeled after it," Bush replied.

On the upcoming election between Mr. Obama and Mitt Romney, Bush said he hopes it will be decided on the big philosophical issues of the day, most importantly about the size and scope of the government, and not on "peripheral issues" he did not specify.

"This could be something that looks like, you know, 1980, where there was a clear choice and the country went in a different direction," Bush said.