Newly released e-mails show that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush once took a swipe at then-President Bill Clinton for being too “preoccupied with other matters” to confront Cuba during the Lewinsky scandal, The Daily Mail said.
In the January 1999 note that was obtained and published by the Washington Post along with other correspondence from Bush’s eight years in office, the new governor pledged to stand firm against any proposed liberalization of Cuba policy, including changes in the U.S. embargo, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Bush then suggested that the next president could be tougher than Clinton, who was then mired in the ongoing investigation of his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, the Times said.
“Forceful diplomacy can make a difference and we have had none for the last seven years and the current President is preoccupied with other matters”’ Bush said in the email to then-Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida.
George W. Bush would go on to win the 2000 general election with the help of his brother’s home state of Florida, which boasts the largest Cuban-American population in the United States. And as predicted by Jeb, he did in fact take a harder line with Cuba than his predecessor Clinton, the Mail said.
The emails published today by the Washington Post show another side of Bush: a hard-working executive who personally responded to online correspondence directed to him but was wary of leaving behind a permanent trail of unflattering communications, the Mail said.
The trove of Bush correspondence available to the public is voluminous, both because of Florida’s expansive public-records laws and because of Bush’s proclivity for email. An early adopter of the technology, the former governor was known for constantly pecking out messages on his BlackBerry and reportedly spent as much as 30 hours a week reading and sending email, the Times said.
Bush has cast his decision to publicly release his electronic correspondence next month as part of his commitment to being “totally transparent” as he mulls whether to run for president, the Times said.
“I’ll let people make up their minds, ” he told a Miami television station on Dec. 14, noting that among the emails are “some funny ones, there’s some sad ones, there’s some serious ones.”
Last week, when President Obama announced he would move to begin to normalize relations with Cuba, Bush objected, calling it a “policy misstep.” The emails show he has remained consistently against any thawing of relations, broadcaster KVNU said.