Former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) on Monday backed off his previous support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, saying it would send the wrong message to people who have tried to immigrate legally.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Asked by NBC's Matt Lauer why his new book doesn't advocate a path to citizenship, Bush said it wouldn't be fair.

"Because our proposal is a proposal that looks forward," he said. "And if we want to create an immigration policy that's going to work, we can't continue to make illegal immigration an easier path than legal immigration. And so I think it's important that there is a natural friction between our immigrant heritage and the rule of law."