By Max Greenwood
CARROLL, Iowa — Jeb Bush talked national security and bridging the partisan divide in government Friday, blaming President Barack Obama for deepening gridlock and misusing executive authority.
Speaking in a small banquet hall at Greasewood Flats Ranch here, the Republican former Florida governor painted a picture of the U.S. military as a rapidly-aging fighting force in desperate need of modernization. He said he would “rebuild the military,” a phrase that has become a talking point among GOP presidential candidates.
“Our friends no longer believe we have their back, and our enemies no longer fear us,” Bush said. “And we now are in a world that is far more dangerous than the day that Barack Obama was inaugurated.”
When one rally-goer asked Bush how he would deal with Muslim refugees from the Middle East, Bush said he would support a freeze on allowing refugees to enter the U.S. until the FBI could more thoroughly vet them. But he dismissed Donald Trump’s position that all foreign Muslims should be barred from entering the country.
“If you send a signal that you’re going to ban all Muslims, you’re sending a signal that the United States is retreating in the world,” Bush said. “It’s not Muslims that’s the problem. It’s radical Islamic jihadists that are the problem.”
He blamed Obama for promoting gridlock on Capitol Hill, and criticized the president’s use of executive orders, calling it “authority he doesn’t have.” Bush said Obama’s strategy hinges on making the opposition look bad, and that his tactics worsened the partisan divide in Washington.
“There’s solutions to every one of these problems, but you have to start with the premise that you’re not the end-all-be-all, you’re not the big dog on the stage,” Bush said. “You have to have a servant’s heart to be able to forge consensus.”