Jeb Bush: Romney’s Mormon faith won’t be an issue

August 30, 2012

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush says he does not foresee Mitt Romney's Mormon faith emerging as a major focal point in the general election.

"I don't think it will be an issue" in the general election, Bush said at a Washington Post/Bloomberg breakfast in Tampa this morning.

Bush added that "it would be hard to imagine" how President Obama's campaign or its allies would "demonize" it.

What should Romney say about his faith?

"This is an opportunity to say how his faith informs his thinking and his actions," Bush said.

On the topic of immigration, Bush said he supported the DREAM Act, a measure that would have allowed a path to citizenship for certain individuals brought to America illegally as children. The measure has stalled in Congress. But Bush said he did not back Obama's executive order which halted deportations of some young illegal immigrants.

"I don't support the president of the United States going beyond his executive authority," Bush said.

"We wouldn't be talking about this issue had we had comprehensive immigration reform in 2006. And it is a shame," he added.

Weighing in on the Obama-Romney match-up, Bush also said at the breakfast that he thinks there is a "cultural phenomenon" that helps Romney among voters over 65. Obama's personality may allow him to strike a chord with younger voters, Bush argued, but when it comes to older voters, he isn't as big a hit.

To illustrate his point, he referred to Obama singing an Al Green song earlier this year, a clip of which went viral online. 

"I was impressed, but I don't think my mom would really care," Bush said.

Bush, who has burnished a reputation in GOP circles on education reform, said that the passage of Obama's health-care law in 2010 actually helped Republicans on the issue, because it created a backlash that swept away many Democrats at the state level.

"In their place are these very reform-minded" Republicans, Bush said.

He added that while Romney could be an effective ally for education reform if elected president, he does not think that Romney would advocate for a larger federal footprint on the issue -- not would Bush recommend it. 

"Romney as president could be a partner in that, but I don't think you are going to hear him advocate for a more robust federal role," Bush said.

Updated at 9:38 a.m.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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