DERRY, N.H. — Jeb Bush’s standard stump speech seemed to take on new meaning Thursday when his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, joined him on the campaign trail for the first time since he announced his White House bid last summer.
Barbara Bush sat directly behind her son, alternating between applause and intent listening as he delivered his standard campaign speech that caused him to choke up at least three times.
The emotion came as Bush talked about his dad, the 41st president, calling him “the greatest man alive” and when telling the story of his daughter’s drug addiction and recovery. Those are both lines Bush regularly uses in his campaign speech, but appeared to have greater meaning with his mom in the room.
“I didn’t really plan on this,” Barbara Bush said about being on the trail. “But Jeb is the nicest, wisest, most caring loyal disciplined…He’s everything we need in a president.”
“You have the values and the beliefs that we Bushes believe in,” she added. “You’re givers, you’re great, just wonderful to be here and with the world’s nicest man.”
“I apologize mom,” Jeb Bush said while looking over his shoulder. “I called Donald Trump a jerk when he disparaged people with disabilities, it’s just not right.”
The former Florida governor has started to rely on his family more in recent weeks than ever before – defying any fear of dynasty labels -- even starting one town hall Thursday by saying “I’m proud to be a Bush.”
Thursday’s appearance by the Bush matriarch came at the same time the super PAC backing Bush’s campaign released a television ad featuring the candidate’s brother, former President George W. Bush. Campaign aides have hinted that the former president will make his own appearance on the trail in coming weeks.
“I cannot tell you in the 90 versions of town hall meetings I've done all across this state how many times people came up and said ‘our mother – I love your mother, I love your mother,’ just over and over again,” he said.