Jeb Bush labels conservative critics ‘the chirpers’

Jeb Bush says he's not worried that his work toward comprehensive immigration reform and his ties to the GOP establishment will alienate conservatives and negatively impact a potential 2016 presidential campaign, referring to critics as "the chirpers."

“If I decide to run for office again, it will be based on what I believe, and it will be based on my record," the former Florida governor said in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody. "And that record was one of solving problems completely from a conservative prospective."

Bush (R) pointed to his conservative credentials on social issues, cutting taxes and shrinking government.

“I will be able to, I think, manage my way through all the chirpers out there,” he said.

Bush made the comments shortly after a speech Friday at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in which he said that immigrants are "more fertile" than Americans and can help the U.S. economy rebound by creating a young labor force. That comment immediately caused a stir in social media, though it's not clear that Bush had it in mind when he referred to "the chirpers."

Former Alaska governor and Sarah Palin (R) on Saturday hit back at Bush, saying fertility isn't a valid issue.

"I think it’s kind of dangerous territory ... to want to debate this over one race’s fertility rate over another,” Palin said at the same event Saturday. “And I say this as someone who’s kind of fertile herself.”

It's not the first time, of course, that a Republican establishment figure has coined a new nickname for the outspoken conservative wing of the party. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) a few months ago labeled Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) as "wacko birds."

In a separate clip published by CBN, Bush said Cruz is "very articulate" but suggested that he should focus on trying to find solutions.

"He's deciding right now, I think, what path he wants to take. I'm for solutions," Bush said. "To me, being able to use your skills to solve problems should be the focus for everybody in elective office today, because our systems are broken, they're not working. And to point out the fact that they're broken is one thing; to actually find creative solutions in a divided country to solve them is what we ought to be focused on. So Sen. Cruz is gifted, and he can play a constructive role in that regard."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | June 17, 2013