Jun 16, 2015 11:29 PM
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
DERRY – Jeb Bush said it best right off the top.
“As you come to expect, the first stop for a candidate, not a potential one any more, a candidate, is New Hampshire, and I’m delighted to be here,” the former Florida governor told an audience Tuesday at the historic opera house in Derry.
The first-in-the-nation primary state was Bush’s first stop on the campaign trail, one day after he announced his candidacy for the White House back home in Miami. With his prospects in Iowa unsure, the Granite State is crucial to Bush’s hopes of winning the Republican presidential nomination.
Bush was on his A-game as he took 15 questions from the crowd at the town hall. But this is Bush’s first campaign in more than a dozen years, and at the end of the event, he forgot to say four important words. Bush admitted he’s a bit rusty, telling the audience “can I make one more comment. I totally blew it. This is my first day. I’m a rookie at running. I want your vote.”
In an exclusive interview with NH1 News last week, Bush praised New Hampshire’s renowned retail politics.
“This is the first in the nation primary. It has a disproportionate say in weeding out the field for sure. So it’s really important. And it a great place to campaign for someone like me. I’ve got a passion for service. I get to tell my story. People can challenge it. This is the way to campaign. Get outside your comfort zone. I don’t think we should be campaigning in little protective bubbles and in New Hampshire you can’t do that. You have to be out amongst people,” Bush said.
“I think the way to campaign, to learn, to show your mettle and to tell your story is New Hampshire style,” he added.
Like a rival for the nomination, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Bush feels that the only way the GOP will win back the White House is to broaden the party’s base. Bush told the audience Tuesday that the GOP needs to “go campaign again in places where Republicans haven’t been seen in a while.”
“I don’t know if you saw the rally for my announcement. It’s a different kind of crowd. Now Miami’s a different kind of place. I got that. But it’s reflective of the diversity of the state,” Bush added.
While Bush was inside the opera house, outside a couple of dozen protesters waved signed, including one that said “Read my lips, no new Bushes.”
That of course is a reference to Bush’s father, former President George H.W. Bush, who famously said in his 1988 campaign for the White House, “read my lips, no new taxes.” It was a pledge he later broke as president.
Jeb Bush is also the brother of former President George W. Bush. Are the famous family ties a plus or a minus for Bush when it comes to Granite State primary voters?
Dottie Quigley of Wyndham told NH1 News that “no, his name doesn’t bother me.”
Her husband Don agreed, adding that “I actually like all the Bushes.”
The Quigley’s are undecided, saying it’s way too early in the campaign season to back a candidate.
Connor Sakati, who’s leaning towards Jeb, said that “the whole idea of the legacy doesn’t bother me too much.”
But he added “I hope he learned from this father and from the mistakes of this brother.”
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley was a bit more opinionated.
Buckley, who milled about outside the opera house prior to the event, told NH1 News ”I think the country has suffered under two bush administrations already and I think it’s really a scary thought of putting a third Bush into the White House and what that would mean for the country and the world.”
Bush didn’t take many jabs at his rivals for the nomination, but he did criticize Hillary Clinton. During the event, Bush said the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination would continue what he called “ugly” progressive policies.
And after the event was over, Bush slammed Clinton’s record of accomplishment.
“Secretary Clinton, when she was a senator, was there for eight years, she passed three bills, her name is on three bills that became law. It’s hard for her even to describe record of accomplishment as secretary of state. I mean she has a hard time doing it,” Bush argued.
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