It was hardly a coronation for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) when he appeared onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
In a back and forth with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Bush took on boos from the crowd twice for standing by his support of a bill that allowed the children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates.
“I know there’s disagreement here,” Bush said to those in the crowd booing. “I feel your pain.”
Bush stressed that Republicans need to “start being for things again,” rather than being defined as a purely oppositional party. He said that many Americans “don’t know that they’re conservative” yet and that the GOP had the policies to attract Latinos and young voters.
Perhaps in an effort to prove his conservative credentials on the immigration issue, he told Hannity he wants to achieve a solution in which immigrants “don’t get government benefits” and “learn English.”
When pressed by Hannity as to whether Republicans should blink in the the current standoff in Congress that threatens a government shutdown, Bush lifted his shoulders.
“Look I don’t know,” he said, stepping back from his interviewer. “I’m not an expert on the ways of Washington,” as muted applause broke out.
“I’m not an expert on that,” he repeated.
Hannity threw Bush a bone later when he ticked off a list of accomplishments on the former governor’s record, noting that he “ended affirmative action” and “privatized government jobs.”
Bush won back some of the crowd when he began talking about his conservative views on repairing the economy, which he summed up as “growing the economic pie.”