Jeb Bush sat down with the folks at "Morning Joe" on Thursday to defend himself against concerns that his 2016 campaign is flagging, talk foreign policy and break down the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents -- most notably his fellow Florida Republican Marco Rubio. Using Genius, my new favorite Internet tool, I annotated Jeb's remarks below. Join me!
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST: With us now, we've got the republican presidential candidate, former Governor Jeb Bush of Florida.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC HOST: Very good to have you on board on the set here with us.
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Mika.
SCARBOROUGH: We're going to need some help evacuating.
BRZEZINSKI: Yes, we are. So now listen - There's a hurricane coming --
SCARBOROUGH: It's coming up here. So I moved from Florida, right, which was having hurricanes every like three days, I come up here and now we're having hurricanes up here.
BRZEZINSKI: There we go. It may not hit.
SCARBOROUGH: It's a trend line.
BRZEZINSKI: It may not hit.
BUSH: Take it seriously.
SCARBOROUGH: I know.
BUSH: So we'll see.
BRZEZINSKI: And you always did. Joe has great stories about how you handled these emergencies in Florida. We want to ask you about what's happening in foreign policy right now. How would you react right away right now? What would be what you would say as president given - specifically pertaining to the Russian airstrikes in Syria and how that affects the relationship with Russia and the entire landscape?
BUSH: Look, I think the Russian relationship has been destroyed if Putin continues to do this and we want to make it clear that that's the case. This is outrageous. He's attacking the Syrian free army. The remnants of an army that we -- got the support during the time when it actually had strength and now instead of us creating a no fly zone, he's in fact saying there's a no fly zone including American Air Force. So we're in a position right now where if we don't show strength, this will create problems not just in Syria, but the rest of the world.
BRZEZINSKI: How do we do that? What's the next move?
BUSH: I think sanctions ought to be on the table. I think we ought to engage with our European allies. Look, U.K. and Germany - I mean France and Germany both have said they're prepared to engage militarily as it relates to ISIS and this was an effort to try to stop all that. And I just think it's wrong. And then on our side we have Donald Trump saying that refugees need to be sent back. If he's elected president, he'll just round them all up and send them back. This is not an America that I believe is the one that will create peace and security. America values matter and American's strength matters and both of those things are at risk right now because of what's going on.
SCARBOROUGH: Front page of "The Washington Post" shows absolute ruin in Syria. This is a scene that's been replayed day in and day out. We've had people coming on for the past three years asking what do we do, what do we do? Most Americans obviously don't want 30, 40,000 troops over in Syria. But we've never heard good answers. I know it's a vexing problem. But what would President Bush do?
BUSH: Well, it's been made more complicated by the Russian actions, but 45 days ago at the Reagan Library I unveiled a strategy to deal with this and it was to create a no fly zone over Syria and to make it clear that no more barrel bombs and to create a strategy --
SCARBOROUGH: Why haven't we done that yet?
BUSH: This president don't believe that we need a strategy as it relates to ISIS or Assad. He believes that we should pull back and the void has made it worse. This refugee crisis is related directly to Assad and to the terror of ISIS, for sure, but it's because we pulled back three or four years ago that has created this problem as well.
And we need to engage and we need to make sure that our traditional Arab allies are on the frontlines of this and if you're sitting in Riyadh or sitting in Turkey and looking at what's going on, the United States is not a reliable partner. Maybe Russia is as they share intelligence between Iraq, Iran and Syria. This is all just doing a victory dance around President Obama and I just think he should stand up and be clear. This is still the strongest country in the world. We still have the strongest military. We're just not acting like it right now.
WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC HOST: Is it worth sitting down with Vladimir Putin at this point? We saw the president had a 90-minute meeting with Putin this week. Obviously Secretary of State John Kerry met with Lavrov yesterday. Is it worth sitting down and talking to them anymore?
BUSH: I don't think it is if the objective is to prop up the Assad regime, because that's the objective of Russia. If there were some way to create an international force to take out Assad and to deal with ISIS, that would be fine.
Look, I think it's okay to talk to people who are your adversaries but you got to do it from a position of strength and not weakness. And right now Kerry saying, well, maybe Russia can play a constructive role in Syria, two weeks ago they were talking the exact opposite. Every time we do nothing and they move forward, we change our voice and that just creates incredible instability, not just in Syria but around the world. GEIST: Do you agree with the president that it's time for Assad to go? He said it a couple years ago - this week it's been more diplomatic that there needs to be a managed transition.
BUSH: Yeah. He's killed 200,000 people of his citizens innocent. I was at a town hall meeting last night and a woman named Nora, with tears in her eyes and a quivering voice, talked about how she's helped 12 of her family members escape Syria. These are Syrian Christians that had they stayed, they would have been killed. They're now in Turkey and had no place to go.
Should we just sit back and accept this slaughter? Should we allow for millions of people to displace? If you're interested in fighting Islamic terrorism over the long haul, we cannot allow this to stand pat. These refugee camps will be breeding grounds for disillusioned people that are going to end up creating problems for us.
JOHN HEILEMANN, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: I want to shift from foreign policy to domestic policy, specially tax policy. The frontrunner in your party's nominating contest right now, Donald Trump, put forward a tax policy, big tax plan a couple days ago. You already have one. Tell me why yours is better than his.
BUSH: Well, mine's better because it's focused on economic growth and the dynamic effect of that will create jobs and income. His mirrors some of the things that I proposed, for which I'm flattered. One of the few times I'll be flattered with Donald Trump, I guess. But the simple fact is the tax foundation scored both of these, I mean, measured the static impact of the taxes and the dynamic impact and his static impact is $10 trillion. It will create such problems of deficits.
It's not a serious plan, in other words. This is typical of Mr. Trump. He had a plan to -- he's going to take all the Syrian refugees back whenever they come. He's going to, in two years time, remove 12 million people from our country. That's a half a million people a year. The cost of that, the lack of civil liberties, the disruptive nature of that is just not realistic and ultimately, people are going to begin to see these things.
HEILEMANN: Do you think he's a fundamentally unserious candidate?
BUSH: I don't think he's offering serious proposals. He's a talent, for sure. There is no question about it. He can disparage someone, you know -
HEILEMANN: With the best of them.
BUSH: -- as good as anybody can get. But I think the long haul people are going to realize that sitting behind the big desk requires more than just insults and we'll see how that plays out. I'm pretty confident that his message is not going to be one that lasts long.
BRZEZINSKI: So we've been so restrained. I mean, you actually mentioned Donald Trump. We didn't. BUSH: No, you guys get high marks for your questions so far.
BRZEZINSKI: We get high marks. We are not clubbing baby seals.
SCARBOROUGH: No, we are not clubbing baby seals this morning for three hours.
BRZEZINSKI: We didn't this morning. But I did want to ask you about "The Washington Post" report earlier this week about donors putting you on notice (ph). How much truth is there to that report? Are they getting worried, especially in terms of your performance in the polls?
BUSH: Look, I haven't -- No donor has called me up and I'm a kind, gentle person.
BRZEZINSKI: Albeit low energy. Albeit.
BUSH: All that stuff, yeah, whatever it is that people say about me, you would think that given all that, that people would call me up and say get better. Not a single person has called me. We've had a good quarter and I don't know what the Super PAC has done, but I hope they've done well as well.
We just started to advertise -- the campaign is well organized. We're in for the long haul. We filed first in Kentucky. All this stuff may not matter in October or September, but it matters getting on the ballot every place and doing all the things necessary to win a majority of the delegates, ultimately, is what this is about.
SCARBOROUGH: I want to go back to tax policy really quickly. What do you do on corporate tax rates?
BUSH: We lower the rates from 35 to 20 percent, allow for full expensing for capital investing. Worldwide income goes to territorial income. There's an 8.75 percent tax for the $2 trillion of cash, whatever the profits part of that is to come back. And --
SCARBOROUGH: Right. You also --
BUSH: -- eliminate all the carve outs.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. You also take on corporate inversions? Is that correct?
BUSH: Yeah, that's the shifting from worldwide to territorial means that you won't have inversions and you -- for the cash that's over seas, you - so you eliminate the need for inversions and cash overseas you tax it at a one-time rate.
SCARBOROUGH: So you're going to tax it a one-time rate to get the $2.5 trillion back to the United States? BUSH: Yep.
SCARBOROUGH: What's that rate?
SCARBOROUGH: What - and also, obviously, Trump's talked a good bit about hedge funds. You've done the same. Carried interest. You took that on first. Explain to people watching what you'd do.
BUSH: First of all, I'm not even sure hedge funds - they call it the hedge fund tax, carried interest, but in fact it's for people that hold their investing for longer than a year that this would matter. I just think if you have -- if you invest, you should get capital gains treatment. If your business is to manage someone else's investment, it's ordinary income. I just think that's fair and that's -- we've lowered the rate, the top rate for high income Americans and put a cap on it.
So look, at the end of the day, our tax plan creates actually, in terms of revenue-generated, high income Americans pay a little bit more than they're paying today proportionally to everybody else. And the middle class gets a pretty good break.
HEILEMANN: Let me just ask you a question about Marco Rubio. You talked - there was a quote attributed to you yesterday, I believe (INAUDIBLE) said you compared him to President Obama. You said, "Look we had a president who came in and said the same kind of thing -- new and improved, hope and change -- and he didn't have the leadership skills to fix things." I just want to be direct about this. Are you saying that Senator Rubio does not have the leadership skills to fix things?
BUSH: There were two thoughts in that sentence that I had. But I think I have the leadership skills to fix things and that's my strength and that's what I talk about and Marco was a member of the House of Representatives when I was governor and he followed my lead and I'm proud of that.
HEILEMANN: Right. But you don't think he has the leadership skills to fix things?
BUSH: It's not known. Barack Obama didn't end up having them and he won an election based on the belief that people had that he could and he didn't even try.
GEIST: You've said repeatedly, Governor, that polls don't matter at this point --
BUSH: They only matter if they're good.
GEIST: But these early polls, you've said you're not concerned about them. But as you've looked over the summer now into the fall, at the top of that poll - we showed another one today that had Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and then you and Senator Rubio behind. How do you diagnose that? What has happened? Your support has eroded over the last four or five months. What's going on in that poll?
BUSH: I think there's a lot of people kicking the tire right now. A lot of anger. A lot of angst. People are really upset with what's going on in Washington for good reason. Look, our team hasn't delivered what was promised. Maybe they overpromised in the election. The president is basically -- said we're not going to do anything. There's a -- right now, you know, the military's being gutted. We have these huge national security challenges around the world and the president said he is going to veto the defense bill. I mean, this is the world we're in. In Washington people are scratching their heads saying what's going on? So they're latching on to the people that are clearly the most outsiders.
SCARBOROUGH: Jeb, you know -- I know people watching our show, and especially Republicans, are thinking the same thing as me. Strong governor, conservative governor, two terms, a really tough state. I love Jon Huntsman, but running Utah two terms is different than running Florida for two terms. And I know a lot of people listen to you now are thinking why is he not breaking through. I know you've got to be asking the question, why are you not breaking through, because in all of these polls, especially over the past month, it's been, you know, Carson plus 10 or 12. You go down the list and then it says Bush minus five or minus six.
How do you turn that around? How do you get people to focus? And I'm not kissing up to you because, as you know, I don't kiss up to anybody. How do you get people to focus on what you did as governor for two terms where you were attacked routinely in Florida papers for being too conservative?
BUSH: I've got to go tell my story, which is what I do each and every day and back it up with advertising -
SCARBOROUGH: Well, why is it not breaking through?
BUSH: Because we just started advertising, literally two weeks ago. You two weeks ago. So if you go up to New Hampshire it will start breaking through when people see these adds and they go, wow, he did all this, he cut taxes, he reduced the state government workforce, he took on all the established interests?
I mean, my story is one of a disrupter, as you know, Joe, in Tallahassee and I can bring that same leadership skill to disrupt the old order in Washington. It desperately needs it. I mean, that place needs to -- just clean out the crud. It's not working and it's a danger to our democracy that you can't pass a budget, that you can't deal with these big issues. We've done this historically. We need to do it again and so my responsibility is to let people know that I have those skills to do it.
BRZEZINSKI: I'm curious of what your thoughts are on Kevin McCarthy's recent statements about Hillary Clinton and the whole reason the Benghazi Committee exists..
BUSH: The Benghazi Committee exist because there should be an analysis of what actually happened and what the response was and if there was a coverup afterwards. This isn't to try to damage Hillary Clinton and I don't quiet understand why he said that. That's the problem with Washington right now. They're grasping to find something to say that they've done something positive. Well first of all, that's not positive and secondly, that's not the intent. I mean, you tell Trey Gowdy that. He's been busting his hump here to try to come up with a fair hearing to be able to get to the truth. He wouldn't say that this is organized to hurt --
SCARBOROUGH: And I think John brought up the fact that the question to him was what has the House of Representatives done under Republican leadership?
BUSH: That's my point.
SCARBOROUGH: And that's his answer.
BUSH: That's as far as you can go and that's clearly the problem. Now they pass bills all the time. They passed a budget. And it's a good budget. It's a conservative budget. The problem is that there has not been a kind of a strategy between the House and Senate to be able to force the president to show his hand. I mean, I think there should be filibusters. They ought to force the Democrats to explain why they are not supporting the efforts to increase funding for the military. At a time like this we should be clearly sending a signal to the rest of the world that we're engaged, we're serious about this, and this budget is not a serious effort in that regard.
HEILEMANN: Let me ask you one last political question real quick. There's a lot of questions about Joe's question about why you haven't caught on, why your trend line has been down. Some people say he's not conservative enough, some people say his name is Bush, that's a problem. Other people say that neither one of those are the problems, he doesn't look like he's having fun out there.
BUSH: (INAUDIBLE) doesn't think I'm having fun?
HEILEMANN: Well I say some people say that. So that's my question to you. Are you having fun out there or not?
BUSH: Absolutely. Absolutely. Maybe I'll send you the tape of yesterday's - just the most resent effort.
HEILEMANN: Not my opinion. Not my opinion. I think you look plenty happy out there. I'm just saying there are those who say this.
BRZEZINSKI: You know what --
BUSH: Look, I'm having a blast and it's going well. I'll give a story that probably helps maybe explain the context of this . October of 8 years ago I was at the Atlanta Airport and you know who I saw? John McCain, who was carrying on his left shoulder, he can't even raise his left hand because of being tortured. He was carrying his own bag transferring planes like we always do in Atlanta to go from one place to the next with thousands of other people and he was campaigning for President of the United States by himself. He won the Republican nomination.
This is how it works. People want you to walk on the hot coals. They want to show -- You have to show that you care about people, that you have a heart, that you have a sense of humor, that you have ideas to lift people up. That's the process I'm in right now and I'm having a blast doing it and I believe I'm going to win the nomination.
BRZEZINSKI: All right. Presidential candidate, Jeb Bush. It's great to have you on the show.
BUSH: Thank you.
BRZEZINSKI: Really nice to see you in person.
GEIST: Thanks, Governor.
BRZEZINSKI: Thank you very much.
SCARBOROUGH: Great to see you, Jeb.