What Jeb Bush likes about Obama

Jeb Bush on admiring Obama's charisma
Jeb Bush on President Obama charisma 2008 _00004711

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Story highlights

  • Bush praised Obama's "skills of communication," calling them an "important part of leadership"
  • The complimentary language about Obama is highly unusual for Republicans

San Francisco (CNN)Jeb Bush spends a lot of his time these days blasting President Barack Obama's policies.

But the former Florida governor took a rare moment Thursday to elaborate on the qualities that he actually admires about the President.
Speaking in San Francisco at Thumbtack, a service that matches customers with professionals for various projects, Bush was asked by an employee if there were any characteristics of Obama that Bush would like to emulate.
    Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush gets out of an Uber car as he arrives at Thumbtack on July 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
    "Well if I could speak like Barack Obama," Bush quickly fired back, drawing laughs from the audience. "If I could light up a room like he does ... charisma is not a bad thing. It's a pretty effective tool to be able to take a message to a broader audience, and he is gifted beyond belief in that regard."
    Bush went on to praise his "his skills of communication" calling them an "important part of leadership."
    "To be elected and re-elected in the kind of turbulent times that we're in is to be admired for someone that's running for president," he said.
    The complimentary remarks for Obama are highly unusual coming from a Republican, especially one who is running to succeed the two-term President in 2016. And while it fits with Bush's efforts to portray himself as a Republican with broader appeal, the comments could draw fire from Obama's fiercest GOP critics.
    But Bush was also sure to mention what he doesn't like about the President.
    "Ideologically, I don't share much of a philosophy with him. I don't ascribe bad motives. I think his heart is in the right place. I just think his policies are wrong," he said.
    Obama missed his opportunity, Bush continued, to be a more widely appreciated president by shifting too far to the left after taking office.
    "I wish he had fulfilled the campaign promise of 2008," he said, pointing to Obama's famous rhetoric about envisioning a country with no "red states or blue states" but only one United States of America.
    "I believe he probably would have won over a whole lot of people in the center and on the right," Bush said. "But he didn't. He moved in a different direction for whatever reason and I think his legacy will be squandered a bit because of that."