POLITICS
06/17/2013 06:02 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2013

Jeb Bush Dismisses Conservative Critics As 'Chirpers'

AP

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) brushed off his conservative critics on Friday, saying he wasn't too concerned that such "chirpers" could derail a possible 2016 presidential run.

"If I decide to run for office again, it will be based on what I believe, and it will be based on my record," said Bush in an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"I will be able to, I think, manage my way through all the chirpers out there," he added.

Bush's outspoken advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform has become a lightning rod for conservative critics such as right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

During a Friday speech at a conservative conference in Washington, D.C., Bush said the country needed more immigrants to become taxpayers to fund the social safety net for the baby-boomer generation.

"Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families. ... Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans over the last 20 years," he said.

Palin later knocked Bush for his comment, saying it was "touchy territory to want to debate this over one race's fertility rate over another, and I say this as someone who is kind of fertile herself."

With the "chirpers" comment, Bush becomes the second Republican to use an avian label for conservative colleagues. In a March interview with The Huffington Post, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) "wacko birds" because of their hardline conservative-libertarian advocacy.

In the interview with CBN, Bush called Cruz "gifted" and said he hoped the Texas senator would play a "constructive role."

"I'm for solutions," Bush said. "To me, being able to use your skills to solve problems should be the focus for everybody in elective office today, because our systems are broken -- they’re not working. And to point out the fact that they're broken is one thing; to actually find creative solutions in a divided country to solve them is what we ought to be focused on."

Bush's mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, said in April that she doesn't want her son to run for president because "the nation's probably had enough Bushes."

But when asked on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday where his father, former President George H.W. Bush, stood on the issue, Bush replied, "I think we've got a split ballot amongst the Bush senior family."

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