George W. Bush: I think Jeb wants to be president

Former U.S. President George W. Bush attends a game between the Southern Methodist Mustangs and the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium on August 31, 2014 in Waco, Texas.

Ronald Martinez, Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush's assessment of his brother Jeb's presidential ambitions is this: "I think he wants to be president."

But he stressed that the former Florida governor hasn't made up his mind yet.

"He and I had a conversation. I, of course, was pushing for him to run for president. He, of course, was saying, 'I haven't made up my mind.'" George Bush said Thursday in an interview with Fox News. "I truly don't think he has, and plus I don't think he liked it that his older brother was pushing him."

Still, the former president said his brother "understands what it's like to be president" after watching his father and brother in the White House for several years.

"He's a very thoughtful man, and he's weighing his options," he said.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jeb Bush outlined the factors he is considering before making a decision, which he expects to do by the end of the year.

"It's related to whether it's the right thing for my family, and whether I can do it with joy in my heart," he said while in Texas campaigning with his son, George P. Bush, who is running for Texas land commissioner (and expected to win).

Jeb Bush's presidential future is very much a family discussion with the matriarch, former first lady Barbara Bush, expressing the most hesitation. And George P. Bush says he won't endorse anyone in 2016, though told the Journal he believes his father "would have a lot to offer."

"I would definitely vote for him, I think it's safe to say, otherwise I may not be invited back home for Thanksgiving," he said.

Jeb Bush's confidantes, meanwhile, are urging top Republican fundraisers and strategists to hold back on committing to other candidates before Bush makes a decision.

In the Fox News interview, former President Bush - who was at a golf tournament for his foundation that honors U.S. service members - was also asked about the situation in Iraq and Syria right now and whether the Iraq war was worth the sacrifice.

"I say it really was. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, the Taliban in power," Bush said.

But he said, "The Iraqi people obviously are going to have to make the decision as to whether or not they want to live in peace. They're not ready to do it on their own. And that's the lesson we've learned recently."

"The long-term strategy just takes time," he elaborated later in the interview. "I tell people all the time -- off the record, by the way -- that [former Secretary of State] Condi Rice's relatives were enslaved in the greatest democracy ever for 100 years and democracy takes time to take hold. Yet there's an impatience with that process, and Americans have got to understand that the lesson of 9/11 is still important today as it was right after 9/11, and that is the human condition elsewhere matters to our national security."

Although Bush said he felt that the U.S. should have left a residual force behind in Iraq after the war was over, he declined to criticize President Obama for failing to secure an agreement to do so.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for