Bush lauded Murray's books on two separate occasions during an interview with National Review editor Rich Lowry, at a forum sponsored by the conservative magazine.
Lowry asked Bush, "... is there any policy or anything public officials can do to help turn back what has been a rising tide of family breakdown crossing decades now?"
"Absolutely, there is," Bush, a likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said. "It's not exactly the core. My views on this were shaped a lot on this by Charles Murray's book, except I was reading the book and I was waiting for the last chapter with the really cool solutions — didn't quite get there."
Later in the interview, Lowry asked Bush what he likes to read. Again, he cited Murray.
"I like Charles Murray books to be honest with you, which means I'm a total nerd I guess," Bush said.
Bush didn't say which of Murray's books he was referring to. His political team did not immediately respond to TPM.
Murray is the author of the highly influential 1984 book Losing Ground: American Social Policy, 1950-1980 which argued that social welfare programs of the 1960s and 1970s actually hurt the poor rather than helped. It was and remains a seminal work in the conservative policy canon.
Ten years later Murray authored the highly controversial The Bell Curve, which he co-authored with Richard Herrnstein. Critics denounced it as racist, saying it essentially argued that African-Americans aren't as intelligent as white Americans because of genetic differences. In 1994 Bob Herbert, then a columnist at The New York Times, described the book as a "scabrous piece of racial pornography masquerading as serious scholarship."
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