A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Bush Attacks Obama, With All Due Respect


Jeb Bush claims that President Obama “believes that America’s leadership and presence in the world is not a force for good.” But we found 19 instances of Obama describing the U.S. as “a force for good,” or something very similar.

Bush’s remark, which he made on Sept. 30 in a campaign appearance in New Hampshire, is featured in a new ad from Right to Rise, a super PAC backing Bush’s presidential bid. Right to Rise says that it is running the foreign-policy-centered ad on Fox News and is backing it with a more than $1 million buy.

 

The ad begins with images of Obama alongside former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, as Bush tells the New Hampshire audience, “This president, with all due respect, believes that America’s leadership and presence in the world is not a force for good.” Bush then makes the case that America has to provide leadership and “stand for the values of freedom” — including support for Christians in the Middle East, for dissidents in Iran and for Israel.

As for Bush’s claim that Obama “believes that America’s leadership and presence in the world is not a force for good,” we recalled Obama saying many times that he thought the country was — often in those very words. We did a quick search of Obama’s public statements, and here’s a sampling of what we found:

“But what [Americans] share is a common creed, a common commitment to freedom, a common commitment to rule of law, a common belief that America is an indispensable force for good around the world, and that our military is a linchpin in our ability to project our values alongside our diplomatic efforts, our economy, and the people-to-people relations that helped to spread those core beliefs that all of you are willing to sacrifice for.”
— Obama at a town hall meeting at Fort Meade, Sept. 11, 2015

“One of those convictions was [King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s] steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”
— statement by Obama on the Death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Jan. 22, 2015

“Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.”
statement by the president on the Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Dec. 9, 2014

“Today our forces are helping to support the civilian effort against Ebola in West Africa, a reminder, as [former Secretary of Defense] Chuck [Hagel] likes to say, that America’s military is the greatest force for good in the world.”
remarks by the president on the resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Nov. 24, 2014

“I’m very proud of the United States. I believe that the United States is a force for good around the world.”
remarks by Obama at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall, Nov. 14, 2014

“And for all those reasons, the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known.”
remarks by Obama at MacDill Air Force Base, Sept. 17, 2014

“You [veterans] helped the United States of America become what we are today — the greatest Democratic, economic and military force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.”
remarks by Obama to the American Legion National Convention, Aug. 26, 2014

“And someday, future generations, whether 70 or 700 years hence, will gather at places like this to honor them and to say that these were generations of men and women who proved once again that the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.”
— remarks by Obama at the 70th Anniversary of D-Day — Omaha Beach, Normandy, June 6, 2014

“And like generations before us, the United States of America is going to remain the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known.”
remarks by Obama at Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 7, 2013

“When our allies across the Asia Pacific know — as we have proven in Korea for 60 straight years — that the United States will remain a force for peace and security and prosperity — that’s a victory; that’s your legacy.”
— remarks by Obama at the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, July 27, 2013

“And today we can say that our country is a better and a stronger force for good in the world because, more and more, we are a people that serve.”
remarks by Obama at Points of Light Award Ceremony, July 15, 2013

“The United States of America is the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known. … More broadly, around the globe we’ve strengthened alliances, forged new partnerships, and served as a force for universal rights and human dignity.”
remarks by the president on the Defense Strategic Review, Jan. 5, 2012

“And the United States of America –and our Armed Forces — will remain the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known.”
remarks by Obama at the “Change of Office” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ceremony, Sept. 30, 2011

“But you, our veterans of World War II, crossed the oceans and stormed the beaches and freed the millions, liberated the camps and showed the United States of America is the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known.”
remarks by Obama at the 93rd Annual Conference of the American Legion, Aug. 30, 2011

“These American patriots — all the services that are represented up here today, all of you who are out there today — you’re the reason why America and our Armed Forces remain the greatest force for peace and security that the world has ever known.”
remarks by Obama at the White House Independence Day Celebration, July 4, 2011

“And in an uncertain world that demands our leadership, the United States of America, and our Armed Forces, will remain the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known.”
remarks by Obama at the Armed Services Farewell Tribute in Honor of Secretary Gates, June 30, 2011

“They are why our banner still waves, our founding principles still shine, and our country — the United States of America — still stands as a force for good all over the world.”
remarks by Obama in awarding the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta, Nov. 16, 2010

“So on a whole host of initiatives that I’ve put forward this year, some of which are beginning to bear fruit, the goal is not to win a popularity contest or to get an award — even one as esteemed as the Nobel Peace Prize — the goal has been to advance America’s interests, to strengthen our economy at home, and to make ourselves a continuing force for good in the world — something that we’ve been for decades now.”
remarks by Obama during a joint press availability in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009

I think that the United States has been an enormous force for good in the world.”
remarks by Obama after meeting with President Bachelet of Chile, June 23, 2009

Bush is free, of course, to make the case that Obama’s deeds have not matched his words. We don’t know what Obama “believes” (and neither does Bush), but we know what he says. And he has repeatedly said that America’s leadership and presence in the world is a “force for good.”