CHICAGO — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says his views about America’s place in the world will often be compared with those of his father and brother, but insists, “I am my own man.”
The likely Republican candidate for president, in remarks Wednesday to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, says he’s “lucky” to have family members who have “shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office,” according to excerpts released ahead of the speech.
“I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs’ — sometimes in contrast to theirs’,” Bush says.
“But I am my own man — and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences,” he says. “Each president learns from those who came before — their principles, their adjustments.”
Bush aides also released what they called a preliminary group of experts who would provide him advice. They included familiar names, such as James Baker III and George Shultz, both secretaries of State under President Ronald Reagan; former Homeland Security secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, all three of whom served under George W. Bush.
The list also included some lesser-known names, such as Meghan O’Sullivan, a former national security adviser to George W. Bush, who now teaches at Harvard and is seen as key to Jeb Bush’s idea of lessening U.S. dependence on Middle East energy.
Bush has harsh words for the foreign policy of President Barack Obama, whose administration is “inconsistent and indecisive” and has led the U.S. to lose “the trust and the confidence of our friends.”
“The great irony of the Obama presidency is this: Someone who came to office promising greater engagement with the world has left America less influential in the world,” Bush will say.
While Bush has not yet formally declared his candidacy, he is all but certain to run for president in 2016 and has already faced questions about how he would distinguish himself from his family, particularly his older brother, former President George W. Bush.
The older Bush brother finished his second term in 2009 amid an unpopular war in Iraq, an economy in freefall and with a majority of Americans disapproving of his job performance.
Among donors, Jeb Bush has noted a strong family and religious bond with his older brother, but has also said they are not clones and have differences common among siblings.
Some foreign policy experts say Bush must go further. Peter D. Feaver, a former national security adviser to George W. Bush, said that includes taking a stance on whether George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was appropriate.
Jeb Bush did not answer that question directly when asked about it last week after an event in Florida for his mother’s literacy charity.
“The answer he gave last week, about not litigating the past, that’s not a satisfying answer,” Feaver said. “He has to come up with a better answer than that.”
But Feaver said Bush, should he win election, would inherit an international landscape far different from the one his brother left behind. Instead of the lurking threat of al-Qaida, Jeb Bush would take on a map dotted with violent and unstable spots that include Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.
It’s something Jeb Bush appears ready to address, according to the excerpts of his speech.
“The United States has an undiminished ability to shape events and build alliances of free people,” he plans to say. “We can project power and enforce peaceful stability in far-off areas of the globe.”
Bush aides also confirmed late Tuesday that former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber, a senior policy aide to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, was advising Bush.