Bush, Warren Agree: The Clinton Era Has Problems

A high-profile Republican and Democrat each take aim.

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton in file picture dated 17 March 1992 in Chicago reacts with his wife Hillary as confetti reigns down during his victory party after winning the Illinois primary.

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton in file picture dated 17 March 1992 in Chicago reacts with his wife Hillary as confetti reigns down during his victory party after winning the Illinois primary.

EUGENE GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images

Potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush and firebrand liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren found a common target this week: The Clinton era, ranging from Bill Clinton's presidency to Hillary Clinton's State Department tenure.

Bush's barbs occurred behind closed doors at a fundraiser for his new political action committee in Greenwich, Conn., on Wednesday. He never mentioned Hillary Clinton by name, according to a person who attended the fundraiser, but he was asked about what many in the room considered President Barack Obama's failed foreign policy. Bush said there would only be one 2016 contender associated with Obama's foreign policy, said the attendee, who declined to be named since the event was closed to the press.

The nod to Hillary Clinton, Obama's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013, comes as Bush moves closer to a White House bid while Clinton continues mulling one.

Bush was also asked about his family connections to the presidency and whether he would have considered running if Clinton weren't likely to join the race, since their shared legacy liabilities could cancel each other out. Bush said his candidacy would be about the future, not the past, according to the attendee. He tried to distinguish himself from the other presidents in his family, saying he loves his father and brother but is a different person. He also quipped about Florida creating more jobs than any other state during his tenure as governor—including Texas, the state his brother led.

He repeatedly used the word inclusive to describe how his potential campaign would reach out to groups that haven't flocked to the GOP in the past, specifically Hispanics and Asians, according to the attendee. The fundraiser audience also asked him about his stance on Common Core education standards and immigration, which could be hot-button topics in the Republican primary.

Kristy Campbell, a Bush spokeswoman, declined to comment on his remarks.

Meanwhile in Washington on Wednesday, Warren used a speech to an AFL-CIO summit on raising the minimum wage to highlight a different Clinton's policies. She railed against the “trickle-down economics” that started in the 1980s and slammed the deregulation policies that marked Bill Clinton's presidency. Like Bush, Warren did not mention the Clintons by name.

“Pretty much the whole Republican Party—and, if we’re going to be honest, too many Democrats—talked about the evils of big government and called for deregulation,” Warren said  She took pains to make clear who she wasn't talking about: Bush's father. “George Bush Sr. called it voodoo economics,” Warren said. “He was right.”

Her speech reflected the discontent with which many in the audience remember the last few decades. “The top 10 percent got all the growth in income over the past 30 years—all of it—and the economy stopped working for everyone else,” Warren said. 

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