Jeb Bush: Trump obsession with 2016 election ‘is weird’

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush reiterated during a visit to Minnesota on Thursday that he’s “not a big fan” of President Donald Trump and said the president’s tendency to dwell on the last election is holding his agenda back in a rocky first year in office.

“He has not shown the ability to unite the country around a common purpose. His obsession with his own election is weird to be honest with you,” Bush said. “Get over it man, you won. It’s not like he lost. If you’d lost I could see him going to get therapy or something. But you won. You’re president of the United States. You’re not a victim. Get on with it now.”

He added, “That has slowed down any success he has had.”

The appraisal came at a news conference ahead of a sold-out Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture at Saint John’s University, which will be aired Friday at noon on MPR News Presents.

Bush is among the prominent Republican candidates that Trump shot past on the way to the party nomination and ultimately the presidency. He is the son of one former president and brother to another.

Bush said he remains involved in championing changes in public education and is mentoring future candidates for political office, focusing on those who see value in civility and compromise. He said he doesn’t see himself taking another shot at the White House.

“I gave it may all when I ran for president. But I lost. I’m a big boy,” Bush said. “What you do is you dust yourself off and get on with life. It can’t be an obsession.”

Bush said he didn’t vote for Trump but wants him to succeed for the country’s sake. He praised Trump’s judicial appointments and said he has assembled a solid team of foreign policy advisers. He voiced support for the administration’s hard-line approach to North Korea amid that country’s efforts to develop a nuclear arsenal it can put on long-range missiles.

“Whether the president is correct to use the language he uses, time will tell. But I think the policy of challenging North Korea and challenging China is the appropriate one,” Bush said. “And there are other additional sanctions that can be used to make that case effectively.”

MPR News intern George Dornbach contributed to this report.