LACONIA — Speaking to some 150 people gathered at the Margate Resort last evening, Jeb Bush said that he has come to New Hampshire “to show my heart, my spine and my mind at as many town halls as I can.”
Once the presumed favorite for the Republican presidential nomination, with just five days until the New Hampshire Primary, Bush has yet to gain momentum. He left Iowa with less than 3 percent of the vote in the caucuses and polls show him only flirting with double digits in New Hampshire.
Bush rattled off his achievements during his two terms as governor of Florida, which included cutting taxes by $19 billion and trimming the state workforce by 11 percent, and said that other candidates also promise to reduce taxes and shrink government. “But, you can’t just talk about it,” he continued. “You have to have the experience.”
Recalling he was impressed by Barack Obama’s rhetoric in 2008, Bush said that the failures of his presidency reflect his lack of experience of leadership.
“First you have to listen, then you learn,” he said, “and then you’re ready to lead.” He remarked that “the lesson of last eight years is that a president cannot provide leadership by “pushing other people down to make himself look good.”
By the same token, alluding to Donald Trump, whose presence has overshadowed the race for the GOP, he said that leadership does not consist of disparaging and insulting others.
Asked how he would make difficult decisions, Bush began by stressing “humility” in the sense of “knowing what you don’t know.” Next he said that a leader reaches out to those individuals with the deepest understanding of the issue at hand along with the best ideas for resolving it.
“You cannot operate in a bubble,” he said. And he concluded with prayer, explaining that “my faith informs my life.”
“This is not about me,” Bush said. “It is about whether this country will lead the world for the next generations.” That, he said will require a president who will lead through strength. “You’re looking at that guy, by the way,” he remarked.
Jeb Bush speaks to a group at the Margate Wednesday night. (Michael Kitch photo/Laconia Daily Sun)
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