George W. Bush is one of Jeb Bush’s top advisers on Israel
The comments were made Tuesday at a Metropolitan Club meeting in New York City, according to the Washington Post, which cited anonymous sources who attended the event. Jeb Bush was asked about who advises him on foreign policy and the potential presidential candidate replied that his brother plays a large role in shaping his position on relations with Israel.
“If you want to know who I listen to for advice, it’s him,” Bush said, according to four people quoted by the Post.
There were some conflicting reports about how specific Bush was, however, since CNN quoted three other attendees as saying that George W. Bush’s important role didn’t end with Israel. Instead, the news outlet stated that Jeb Bush was actually referring to the Middle East in general, not just Israel.
“What you need to know is that who I listen to when I need advice on the Middle East is George W. Bush,” CNN reported Bush saying.
Jeb Bush’s spokesman, Tim Miller, denied that the comments were about the Middle East as a whole.
“Gov. Bush deeply respects his brother’s service to this country and in response to a question about James Baker and Israel, he reiterated that he looks to his brother whose stalwart support for our ally is in line with his commitment to standing with Israel in the face of great threats to their security and our own,” Miller said in a statement to CNN.
The comments would be significant either way, as any potential presidential run for Jeb Bush will likely involve addressing the fact that his brother remains extremely unpopular, particularly when it comes to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and Middle Eastern policy in general.
Earlier this year, Bush seemed to put some distance between himself and his brother and father, both of whom were elected president.
“I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs - sometimes in contrast to theirs,” he said in February. “I love my father and my brother. I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man - and my views are shaped by my own thinking and own experiences.”