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Jeb Bush at Politics and Pies in Concord, NH on Thursday April 16

Apr 16, 2015 9:46 PM

Steinhauser: Bush pushes back on immigration, breaks diet

CONCORD - Jeb Bush held his ground in the face of a tough question on immigration, and briefly broke his diet, as he arrived in New Hampshire on the eve of a major Republican presidential cattle call.

The former Florida governor and likely GOP presidential candidate Thursday night fielded a grab bag of questions from an audience of Granite State voters packed into the Snowshoe Club, a rustic red-shingled cottage on the outskirts of Concord that dates back more than a century.

Bush was the latest presidential contender to speak at Politics and Pies, which is fast becoming must attend event for Republican White House hopefuls.

While Bush is considered the nominal front-runner right now in the race for the GOP nomination, some conservatives remain wary of him due to his support for a pathway to legitimacy for many of the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

One of the last questions from the crowd came from Charles Pewitt, who told Bush that "I don't think the vast majority of the American people support mass immigration and increased legal immigration or legalization or any other schemes that will bring more immigrants into the country. So you're going to have a tough sell."

Bush appeared ready for the question, quickly responding.

"Well that's my job. My job is to not back down on my beliefs. Hopefully you like some of the other stuff I said. I'll mark you down as neutral on the immigration one," Bush said to laughter from the audience.

"I respect your views but I don't have to agree to it," Bush added.

Earlier in the evening, Bush said that Senate Republicans should allow a vote on Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's nominee for attorney general.

"I think presidents have the right to pick their team in general," Bush said. "If someone is supportive of the president's polices, whether you agree with them or not, there should be some deference to the executive. This should not always be partisan."

Lynch, who if confirmed would be the first African-American woman to serve as attorney general, was nominated by Obama in November.

Bush said that outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder had "politicized the office," adding that "the longer it takes to confirm her, the longer Eric Holder stays at attorney general. Look at it that way.

Later, taking questions from reporters, Bush seemed to take a veiled swipe at Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who made a stop at a Chipotle restaurant in Ohio earlier this week as she motoring from New York to Iowa.

Asked if he eats at the popular Mexican fast food chain, Bush responded that "I actually cook it at home. I don't need to go to Chipotle."

At Politics and Pies, after talking about the politics is over, it's time to enjoy the pies, which Bush did. Bush, who's hoping to cut a few pounds, is currently on a diet. But it appears he took the night off.

"The hell with the diet," Bush said as he ate a slice of blueberry pie.

Friday Bush speaks at the First-in-the-Nation Leadership Summit, a two day gathering in Nashua that's being organized by the New Hampshire GOP. Some 20 Republican candidates and probable contenders are speaking at the Friday and Saturday gathering.


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