Jeb Bush 'Eager to Hear' Netanyahu's Congress Speech, Surprised at White House Reaction

Former Florida governor called on Obama to work with lawmakers to boost defense budget while criticizing White House for opening diplomatic ties with Cuba.

Steve Holland and Emily Stephenson
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Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, February 18, 2015.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, February 18, 2015.Credit: AP
Steve Holland and Emily Stephenson

REUTERS - U.S. Republican Jeb Bush, a possible contender in the 2016 presidential contest, said on Wednesday that he is eager to hear a controversial speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the U.S. Congress next month.

Bush, a former Florida governor, said he was surprised by the White House's reaction to the planned speech, organized by congressional Republicans. President Barack Obama has said he will not meet with the foreign leader to avoid the appearance of interfering in Israel's national elections on March 17.

Bush also said that U.S. strategy toward Islamic State militants should be one that "takes them out."

"There's no talking about this. That's just not going to work for terrorism," said the former Florida governor. He said the strategy needs to be global and coordinated with other powers in the region.

He called for Obama to work with lawmakers to boost the defense budget, saying U.S. military power should be rebuilt, adding that the United States needed to be prepared for a long-term commitment to fighting Islamic extremism.

The former governor also criticized the Obama administration for opening diplomatic ties with Cuba, saying "we got nothing in return."

"I wouldn't call what we did a reset," Bush said in the question-and-answer session following a speech. "I would call it bad negotiations."

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