Traveling on a four-day swing through Europe in the days before he is expected to formally announce his 2016 presidential candidacy, Bush was asked about a passage from his 1995 book "Profiles in Character."
In a chapter titled "The Restoration of Shame," he argued: "One of the reasons more young women are giving birth out of wedlock and more young men are walking away from their paternal obligations is that there is no longer a stigma attached to this behavior, no reason to feel shame."
That passage has drawn new attention after the Huffington Post wrote about it earlier this week. While appearing to distance himself from his writings on shame, Bush said here in Poland that he remains concerned about the impact of single parenthood on children.
"It puts a huge, it’s a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we’re in today," Bush said. "And it hurts the prospects, it limits the possibilities of young people being able to lives of purpose and meaning."
Democrats quickly pounced. Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee said that Bush's comments “confirmed what we already knew: that these out-of-touch beliefs that advocate shame are part of his policy platform.”
"Shame on you, Jeb," she added.
This week's Huffington Post report also noted that as governor, Bush had declined to veto a 2001 bill which became known as the "Scarlet Letter law," which required some women putting their babies up for adoption to publish the names of the possible fathers in the newspaper. It was repealed two years later, after a court deemed it unconstitutional.
Bush had criticized that provision of the law, the ostensible purpose of which was to protect men's parental rights and to assure that parents who adopt children would not later be challenged by men claiming paternity. It was part of a sweeping overhaul of the state's adoption laws.
In an April 17, 2001, letter to then-secretary of state Katherine Harris, Bush wrote that the bill had "deficiencies," including "a shortage of responsibility on behalf of the birth father." He called upon legislators to pass a "glitch bill" to correct the law's defects.