Fmr. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is joined by former governor and senator Judd Gregg, and by state Sen. Pesident Chuck Morse, at Geno's Chowder and Sandwich Shop in Portsmouth

Oct 29, 2015 10:40 PM

Steinhauser: Bush says campaign not on life-support; tells NH1 News he'll accelerate NH strategy

NH1 Political Director -

PORTSMOUTH – Jeb Bush pushed back at pundits who are writing his political obituary, saying his campaign is “not on life support.”

The former Florida governor, back in the Granite State less than 24 hours after a lackluster performance at the third Republican presidential nomination debate, told NH1 News that he’s going to “accelerate” his strategy to “spend a lot of time in New Hampshire.”

And Bush announced that he’ll kick off a bus tour in the first-in-the-nation primary state next Tuesday.

Bush’s picked Geno’s Chowder and Sandwich Shop to hold his first campaign event following Wednesday night’s showdown in Boulder, Colorado. With the Piscataqua River at high tide as his backdrop, the one-time frontrunner for the GOP nomination was endorsed by former governor and senator Judd Gregg. Even though Gregg upset some on the right in 2009 when he considered serving as commerce secretary for incoming President Barack Obama, he still remains popular with many Republicans in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

“It’s obviously a pleasure for me today to be here to participate with all of you in coming round to gather to support Jeb Bush for president,” Gregg told the crowd as he introduced Bush.

The endorsement came at a very opportune time for Bush, following his much panned debate performance and last week’s decision to trim the payroll and the size of his staff at his national campaign headquarters in Florida.

In comments to the audience, Bush criticized the debate, saying “it was all about the horse race, it was all about the gotcha question to make people look bad.”

But he also admitted that the debate stage may not be his best format, saying “there are two types of politicians. They’re the talkers and they’re the doers. I wish I could talk as well as some of the people on the stage, the big personalities on the stage, but I’m a doer.”

“It’s not about the big personalities on the stage. It’s not about performance. It’s about leadership. And the leader today in this country needs to be a unifier, and needs to have a servant’s heart,” he added.

Talking to reporters later, Bush said his campaign’s “not on life support. We have the most money. We have the greatest organization. We’re doing fine. Look in late October four years ago Herman Cain was the front runner for the Republican nomination.”

“Every one of these elections goes through a process. You of all people know this in New Hampshire. This is where elections start in many ways and this is how we’re going to campaign,” he added.

And Bush reminded reporters that “there’s eight more debates. There’s ample time to do what candidates do,” adding “the end is not near.”

Asked by NH1 News about his strategy going forward, Bush said “the strategy is to spend a lot of time in New Hampshire, build the best organization, back it up with solid advertising and campaign with heart. Campaign across this country and across this state. That’s what I’ve been doing and I’m going to accelerate it even more, starting next week with a bus tour. Judd Gregg is a well-respected elected official. He’s never lost here. People admire him for his leadership and for the kind of politician he was and so I’m excited to have his endorsement.”

Clash with Rubio

Bush also defended his move to criticize Marco Rubio over the junior senator from Florida’s missed votes on Capitol Hill, which was one of the most talked about moments from the CNBC debate.

“You should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate, is it like a French work week? You get three days where you have to show up? You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job, Bush said to Rubio.

Rubio fired back, saying “we're running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you. Here's the bottom line, my campaign is about the future of America. It's not going to be about attacking anyone else on this stage. I will continue to have tremendous admiration and respect for Gov. Bush.”

Rubio was considered the overwhelming victor in the most public clash today between the two one-time friends.

Asked about the his reaction to pundits giving the victory to Rubio, Bush said “my reaction is when people get elected to serve, they ought to serve. That’s the simple point I’m making.”

Bush went on to slam Rubio, as well as two other rivals for the nomination, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

“The fact is that the three senators on the stage last night combined have two bills that they’ve sponsored that have become law. And the gridlock has to be fixed and I don’t think you’re going to fix it with someone who’s part of that. I think you’re going to fix it with someone who has a proven record to fix things. I can change Washington just as I did in Tallahassee,” Bush said.

And Bush continued to tout his resume. Asked by NH1 News if you can still run for president on experience and resume in today’s world, Bush said “outside of Washington experience for sure. I mean people are yearning for a balanced budget. I did eight of them. People are yearning for a triple A bond rating for our country. I was one of just two governors to do just that.”

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