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Feb 3, 2016 10:34 PM

Steinhauser: In NH1 News interview, Bush defends ad critical of Rubio; calls Trump sore loser

NH1 News Political Director

LACONIA – Jeb Bush says that he admires Rick Santorum but “he just made a wrong decision” in backing Sen. Marco Rubio.

And in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News Wednesday evening, the former Florida governor defended a full page ad he placed in New Hampshire’s largest and most influential newspaper that jabbed at Rubio, a fellow Floridian and rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

And Bush criticized front runner Donald Trump’s push for a do-over in Iowa after alleging that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas played dirty in winning the Iowa caucuses, saying “he’s a sore loser. He lost and he better get used to it.”

Take a look at the full interview below:

Bush spoke with NH1 News minutes after holding a town hall in Laconia. While Bush was fielding questions during the town hall, Santorum formally endorsed the end of his second bid for the GOP nomination and endorsed Rubio.

Asked if he had reached out to Santorum since news broke earlier in the day that the former senator from Pennsylvania was suspending his campaign, Bush said “I tried to. And I’m disappointed that he did. I really admire Rick Santorum. I campaigned for him in his Senate race. I believe in his total focus on the life issues. He’s a good man. He just made a wrong decision on this particular thing.”

Bush kicked off Wednesday by placing a full page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader that snipped at Rubio by touting that many of Florida’s top political leaders prefer Bush for the Republican nomination.

At the town hall in Laconia, Bush answered a question about the negative ads being launched by Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting his White House run, by saying politics “is a contact sport.”

He pointed out that he’s being attacked by a super PAC supporting Rubio and added that “I’m not all worried about that he said, she said stuff.”

Asked if he’s being hypocritical by having his campaign put up the ad in the Union Leader, Bush said No. ‘He said, she said’ is personal attacks. What you’re talking about is every (Florida) speaker of the House that served with me, and after, that worked with me, other than Marco of course, is supporting me. And if you look at the three state wide elected officials in Florida, all of them are supporting me. A majority of the congressmen are supporting me. A majority of the state Senate, and state House members, are supporting me. It’s not that they don’t like Marco, it’s that they know that I’m a proven leader and he has not shown those leadership skills because he hasn’t been in a position to do it. That’s not attacking. It’s just reality.”

Earlier Wednesday Trump accused Cruz of stealing the Iowa caucuses, calling for either new vote or the results to be nullified.

Bush called Trump “a sore loser,” adding “this is politics and whatever the Cruz campaign did may not have been completely above board, who knows. I’m focused on New Hampshire here, but a do-over. Give me a break. Put your big boy pants on Donald and get over it. He’s doing well here. He should be focusing on making his case of why he should be a capable president rather than trying to change the conversation about who’s winning and who’s losing people want to know about how their income is going to rise, how our country’s going to be kept safe. And Donald Trump doesn’t offer much in that regard.”

Last week New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told NH1 News that he needed to finish ahead of the other governors (Bush and Ohio’s John Kasich) in New Hampshire’s February 9 primary. Asked if he felt the same way, Bush said “no I don’t. I love Chris Christie but we have a national campaign. We have a great organization in South Carolina, we have great support in Florida and other places so I intend to do well here because we’re working hard here and we have an extraordinary ground game and voter contact effort and the town halls, you can just see, people are moving in my direction. Polling’s starting to look good as well. There was a poll today that showed us in second. So I feel great about where we are.”

Bush spoke with NH1 News one day before his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, was joining him on the Granite State campaign trail. Asked if he reached out to his mother to join him, or if his mother asked, Bush said “I’ve always wanted her to come and I asked her to come and she’s always willing to come. So it was a mutual deal. And people love her here. I’m looking forward to it. It will be a lot of fun.”

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