Uber driver Jay Salazar was pretty nonplussed about the customer he gave a ride to on Thursday: Presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
For Salazar , a Democrat, Bush, a proud anti-regulation Republican, was simply the latest passenger to hail him through the controversial ride-sharing app.
While admitting he never had a presidential hopeful as a passenger before in the five months he’s been driving for Uber, Salazar also didn’t make any small talk or have any specific questions for Bush, who was speaking at Thumbtack, a talent-sourcing site.
One Uber driver, who was also a Democrat, took Bush to the event, where Bush tweeted out he "rode shotgun." Salazar took him back.
To be fair, it was hard to have a meaningful interview with Salazar. He was bombarded by the media as Bush exited his event, dozens of microphones and cameras were pointed into his Toyota.
Uber has become a political talking point this presidential campaign. While Bush boasted about his Uber ride, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton more skeptical of Uber, specifically its worker protections, Mercury News columnist Michelle Quinn pointed out.
As Quinn wrote, many of the presidential candidates have taken to Uber as a campaign mantra. But the stunt has pros and cons.
"Holding up Uber as a model of American ingenuity is risky when the company is facing legal challenges over how it treats workers," Quinn wrote. "Likewise, knocking the sharing economy can make a candidate look out of step with the modern world.'
Not a topic of formal discussion at Bush’s speech was how Uber was fined $7.3 million Wednesday, after an administrative law judge ruled that Uber did not comply with state law and should be suspended from operating in California. Specifically, the judge found that Uber failed to provide required information to the California Public Utility Commission, such as disabled passenger access, the number of rides drivers have made and driver safety information.
For its part, Uber vowed to appeal the ruling and had no comment on Bush’s Uber ride.
Bush did address the issue during a Q&A after the event, saying he had no concerns about the challenges and attacks against Uber and other like-minded companies.
He also tweeted out: "I don't mind disrupting the established order," posting a fuller - and his first - comment on LinkedIn. "We have to challenge the assumptions, regulations and laws that protect most of Washington from true digital disruption – and that means the liberal ideology which would squash so much innovation if it could," Bush wrote.
Bush added: "Big government liberals fundamentally can’t embrace digital innovation because it threatens the way they govern. They see car-sharing services as a threat to the local government taxi cab cartels. They see food trucks and Airbnb as a threat to urban planning and the tax and fee racket that they’ve imposed on brick and mortar restaurants and hotels. It’s no wonder that under President Obama, they’ve chosen to regulate the Internet using a law from the 1930s. Regulation is all they know and they’ve been using the same playbook for decades."
When asked if he minded that a Democrat drove him to his event, Bush shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’m in San Francisco. Republican registration is like 8 percent.”