Republican Jeb Bush, the undeclared White House hopeful, came to left-leaning New York City Thursday with a message: "I'm not a big fan of the progressive agenda."
He elaborated during five minutes on an Upper East Side sidewalk with reporters: The environment for American businesses has been "made worse by President Obama's tenure." The American education system isn't "acceptable or sustainable." As for the left's battle cry, income inequality: "taking from successful people to provide for those that aren't isn't the solution."
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Bush -- son of the 41st president and brother of the 43rd -- is considering a bid to be the 45th; he's formed a "super PAC," which makes independent expenditures that aren't subject to government-set limits. Asked Thursday when he'll decide, he said he would make up his mind at "some point soon."
"Not today," he told the reporters outside a Republican clubhouse in a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 6 to 1.
Bush is part of a wide field of potential GOP candidates that includes Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor, and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.
Thursday he was at the Metropolitan Republican Club for about 45 minutes in a breakfast meeting that was closed to the media. He then went to a Jewish school nearby to celebrate Israel's independence day.
Should Bush decide to run, his only competition on the left so far would be Hillary Clinton. Bush told reporters that lingering ethics questions about her family foundation mean she's "gonna have to be held accountable, like all of us."
Inside the club, he fielded questions from an audience of about 100, according to Manhattan Republican party chairwoman Adele Malpass. She recapped his comments on a range of topics: national security ("We have a president who won't use the word radical Islamic terrorist"); the economy ("less taxes, less government, less regulation"); and education ("vouchers, charter schools . . . our school system be about kids and not the teachers union").
Asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio's push to address income inequality -- de Blasio campaigned on a slogan that New York City represented a Dickensian tale of two cities -- Bush said he's "not a big fan of higher and higher taxes."
De Blasio aide Phil Walzak said in a statement: "With all due respect to Governor Bush, New Yorkers aren't fans of the trickle-down economics that he and his brethren have delivered to the country -- policies that have been a windfall for the wealthiest, while hurting everyone else."
Policy discussions weren't the only subject of Thursday's breakfast, which included cake, Danish pastry, boxes of coffee and spring water, according to staff.
"A lot of selfies," Malpass said. "A lot of selfies."