RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Friday that he trusts the legal process that resulted in charges against six Baltimore officers in the death of a man from injuries sustained while in police custody.
But a president, said the likely 2016 Republican candidate, could do more to address rising anger toward police in poor neighborhoods. “I think we need, as a nation, to have a conversation about why is it that we’re creating these big pockets of poverty,” he said.
Speaking shortly after charges were announced in Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore, Bush said “the process works, and it will go forward from here on out. People are innocent until proven guilty.”
At the same time, Bush stressed that in any time of disaffection, the first responsibility is to make sure the rule of law applies. There are “ways to protest peacefully, but when you cross the line and you start doing damage to property and harming people, innocent people, that’s a problem. ”
Bush met Friday morning with dozens of supporters at the North Carolina Republican Party headquarters in Raleigh as he edges closer to a decision on whether he’ll seek the GOP presidential nomination.
“It’s not that far off,” he told the crowd of his decision.
Bush was expected to make several more stops in the state, including a private meeting with supporters in Charlotte.
In remarks to his Raleigh audience, Bush warned against retrenchment in foreign policy, saying the U.S. needs to maintain a strong presence in global security.
“When we pull back, what happens?” he asked. “Voids are filled. They’re filled by these new barbarian Islamic terrorist threats.”
And “our friends have no confidence that we’re going to have their back, and our enemies don’t fear us.”
On poverty, Bush said better education, help for small businesses in poor neighborhoods and a focus on “committed family life as an organizing principle” are part of the remedy, not another “war on poverty” by the federal government as was launched in the 1960s.