Jeb Bush is not a fan of Pamela Geller.
In a sit-down interview with Megyn Kelly that aired Monday night, the former Florida governor didn’t have much love for the anti-Islam bomb-thrower. Geller recently held a contest that asked cartoonists to draw pictures of the Prophet Muhammad, and two radical Islamist gunmen tried to kill event attendees. Both were killed by a police officer who was there.
“I think the First Amendment and freedom, freedom of expression trumps everything else,” Bush said, when Kelly asked him about the variety of responses to Geller’s contest. “It doesn’t mean it’s necessarily appropriate to do what they did. Uh, the bigger issue—”
“Why is it inappropriate?” Kelly responded. “Why is it inappropriate? Why not stand up to the terrorists and say, ‘We’re going to draw what we want to draw?’”
“I think you can, I don’t have a problem with that,” Bush responded. “The bigger problem right now is that we have home-grown, disaffected people, terrorists in the making, that can receive a tweet, or can receive an email and provoke them to drive 1,000 miles or 2,000 miles armed with bulletproof vests.”
He added that Geller shouldn’t be seen as a hero.
“The guy who’s the real hero in this isn’t Mrs. Geller or anybody on the other side arguing now,” he continued. “They have every right to do that. It’s the police officer who, you know, unarmed with bulletproof vests, I guess, shot these two guys dead. I wish I—I’d like to see him on your show, because that’s the guy we ought to admire, because imagine what would have happened had he not done his job.”
Bush’s stance puts him in a sweet spot on the issue. Geller’s cartoon contest has drawn substantial condemnation, including from some Fox News hosts. Much of the media coverage of the event has focused on whether or not it was appropriate, rather than on how to mitigate the threat of homegrown terrorism.