Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush spoke at the National Review Ideas Summit on Thursday criticizing the city of Baltimore’s decision to close Baltimore Orioles stadium to the public in response to the mass rioting that occurred the day before. Bush speaking before an audience said that keeping fans away from the Orioles and White Sox game on Wednesday sends the wrong signal. The decision to close the game to the public is the first in Major League Baseball history. Violence in the city caused by the death of Freddie Gray led to MLB officials to postpone games for Monday and Tuesday to be postponed and as a result of the citywide curfew, officials moved the game time Wednesday afternoon and kept fans out citing they didn’t want to draw law enforcement resources away from other regions.
Bush placed the blame of the civil unrest on poverty, social breakdown, and the continual failing education system. Bush failed to address the need for criminal justice reform while both Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz along with Democrat Hillary Clinton have addressed the issue in recent comments on the Baltimore riots sparked by Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody due to a severe spinal injury. Governor Bush applauded President Obama’s criticism that poor communities suffer from single-parent homes but did not support President Obama’s call for direct government investment in the inner city. “I think we need to be engaged in this debate as conservatives and say there’s a bottom up approach and it starts with building capacity so people can achieve earned success,” he said.
Bush citied Toya Graham, the mother caught on camera yelling at her son, who was one of the rioters on Monday afternoon. He brought her up during a question about her mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush. “I think my mom and the woman who was bringing her child back home have a lot in common, which I admire her a lot for doing what she did,” he said. “It was a nice visual symbol of what needs to be restored.” Bush defended the “broken windows” law enforcement policies first used by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the late 90s. The policy encourages law enforcement target minor forms of public disorder to prevent broader criminal disorder.
Bush defended the policy because “Who are the people that get hurt by this? It’s the shop owner; it’s the person who now may lose their job in a business that can’t reopen. It’s the nursing home. It’s the church. I mean, these are people — this is the community that creates the vibrancy to allow these communities to be successful are always hurt the most in these types of events. I think the mayor’s record when he was mayor of New York, creating a strategy with the police was the right one.”
Later during his address, he attacked Scott Walker’s skepticism over whether legal immigration hurt wages and took jobs from existing American workers. “It’s the wrong approach,” Bush said, arguing that legal immigration was not a “zero sum gain” and benefitted Americans through increased growth and an infusion of young, talented workers. He called for changes to the legal immigration system to prioritize immigration to address economic needs rather than family-based immigration, citing Canada’s system as a model. Along with discussing immigration, Bush declined to comment whether he would support Senator Marco Rubio’s amendment that would force Iran to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state as part of the nuclear deal being ironed out. He continued to stand firm on his support of Common Core academic standards.