Jeb Bush: 'I don't know' if I'd ever run again, but I'd never do what Trump did to get elected

Key Points
  • GOP former presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he feels like a "fish out of water" in the current state of America politics.
  • He says he does not know if he would ever run for the White House again.
  • "I can't imagine having to attack someone to make yourself look strong," Bush says, referring to how Trump goes after his rivals.
Trump is a 'by-product' of current cultural 'malaise,' says Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush, who unsuccessfully ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, told CNBC on Thursday he feels like a "fish out of water" in the current state of divisiveness in America.

Asked if he'd ever consider running for president again, the 66-year-old former Florida governor said: "I don't know. I love policy. I love my country. But this political environment right now, I'm not suited for. To be honest with you. I'm a fish out of water. I can't imagine having to attack someone to make yourself look strong."

In the "Squawk Box" interview, Bush said he did not vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election and did not vote for Hillary Clinton.

However, Bush said, "I'm not a 'never Trumper.'" He said fellow Republicans should work with and "praise the president when he does good things," such as tax reform and deregulation.

"But when he goes beyond the line, or anybody else does for that matter, you have to stand on principle," he said.

"I don't blame Donald Trump for the cultural malaise that we're in. He's a byproduct of it," Bush said. "The cultural environment has changed."

The division in the U.S. is "dangerous," he argued, pointing to Roseanne Barr's recent racist tweet and comedian Samantha Bee's vulgar commentary. "How can you explain this to your children and grandchildren?"

"We have to be civil with one and other. We have to embody some sort of character, I think, or this all falls apart," Bush said. "Politics is a mirror of our culture, and public leaders have the responsibility to fortify the culture not to make it worse."

"The kind of campaign [Trump] ran would have never been successful a decade ago or in the age of [Ronald] Reagan and Bush, for example," said Jeb Bush, whose father George. H.W. Bush was the 41st president of the United States and his brother, George W. Bush, was the 43rd.

The ends don't justify the means, Jeb Bush said, referring to the way Trump goes negative. "It's not worth disparaging people."

Bush ran as a centrist, establishment Republican in a crowded field for the GOP nomination in the last presidential campaign. Early in the race, he was considered a front-runner but failed to gain traction with voters. He dropped out in February 2016.

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