Jeb Bush Says He Doesn't Find Washington Redskins' Nickname Offensive

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2015

Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a campaign stop Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015, in Bedford, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Jim Cole/Associated Press

Count Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush among those who do not believe the Washington Redskins' nickname is offensive to Native Americans.

"I don't think [the team] should change it," Bush told ESPN's Andy Katz and ABC's Rick Klein, according to a press release announcing their new SiriusXM show, The Arena. "But again, I don't think politicians ought to have any say in that to be honest with you. I don't find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don't find it offensive. We had a similar kind of flap with FSU if you recall, the Seminoles, and the Seminole tribe itself kind of came to the defense of the university and it subsided."

"It's a sport for crying out loud," he continued. "It's a football team. Washington has a huge fanbase. … I'm missing something here I guess."

Bush, a former Florida governor who is the son of President George H.W. Bush and brother of President George W. Bush, is considered among the leading candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

As Sergio Bustos of the Associated Press noted, Washington owner Daniel Snyder has donated $100,000 to the political action committee that backs Bush's campaign. Bush also counts Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson among his donors; records show both have donated $500,000 to his campaign.

Since SiriusXM released Bush's quote, Change the Name—the organization at the forefront of pressuring the Washington franchise—has issued a statement criticizing his stance.

"The governor somehow believes he speaks for Native Americans and can assert that Native American people do not find this slur offensive. He clearly is missing something," the statement said, per Bustos.

Change the Name went on to say that "no presidential candidate should be promoting this racial slur against Native Americans."

Sitting President Barack Obama said to the Associated Press in 2013 he would "think about" changing the name if he were in Snyder's position (h/t Theresa Vargas and Annys Shin of the Washington Post).

Quotes like Obama's and others have been used as rallying cries for the movement pushing for change to team nicknames that could be deemed offensive to Native Americans and other minority groups. More than 40 percent of NFL players polled last year by ESPN said Washington should change its nickname.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noted some NFL teams have been shying away from use of the "Redskins" name. Washington's Week 4 opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, has eschewed the nickname in favor of "Washington" on its promotional materials.

The Eagles did not respond with a comment when asked if their website and social-media advertisements avoided the nickname on purpose.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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