Jeb Bush by-passes Britain on pre-election tour of Europe – Telegraph.co.uk

The choice of destinations is expected to allow Mr Bush to set out his more hawkish foreign policy agenda, drawing a sharp contrast with Barack Obama over his handling of Vladimir Putin’s aggressive posturing in eastern Ukraine

Both Poland and Estonia, who feel threatened by the Russian annexation of Crimea, have called for a tougher line with Moscow.

In a recent talk radio interview Mr Bush called Mr Putin a “ruthless pragmatist” and argued that the United States should let Moscow know of US determination to protect the Nato alliance and its members.

He also called Mr Obama “feckless” for refusing to provide defensive military equipment requested by Ukraine.

Mr Bush, whose foreign policy advisers are substantially drawn from the administrations of his brother and father, has also questioned concessions Mr Obama might make to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, criticised his diplomatic opening to Cuba.

In Germany, Mr Bush will address the governing Christian Democratic Union economic conference, said a Bush aide, who requested anonymity. In Poland and Estonia, Mr Bush will meet government and business leaders as well as leaders of civic and non-governmental organizations.

A spokesman said that in all three countries Mr Bush will discuss pro-growth policies, innovation and technologies to address the changing global economic environment and ways to foster prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.

“He will also be listening to their perspectives on growing security challenges in the region,” she added.

His trip abroad comes with some risks. Two rivals, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, travelled to Europe in recent months and both had encountered stumbles on the foreign stage.

Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee in 2012, was criticised during a visit to the UK after he questioned whether London was ready to host the Olympic games.

Republican US Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who announced a run for the White House a week ago, has made foreign policy a hallmark of his candidacy based on his being a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A new CNN poll released on Monday found 17 per cent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters backed Mr Bush for the nomination, over 12 per cent for Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor and 11 per cent each for Rand Paul, the libertarian Kentucky senator and Marco Rubio, the Florida senator.

A frequent traveller abroad, Mr Bush has been on 89 foreign trips to 29 countries and six continents since he left the governor’s office in Florida in 2007.

His last trip to Germany was to Frankfurt in 2011. This will be his first trip to Poland and Estonia, the Bush team said.

The Bush campaign did not immediately returned a request for comment on the reason for omitting Britain from the visit.