NEWTON, Iowa -- Jeb Bush had his campaign squarely focused on Hillary Clinton and the state of New Hampshire on Tuesday despite being on the stump in Iowa where voters will have the first official say in the 2016 race just two months from now.
“You’re looking at the Republican Nominee right now,” he said, looking at the bigger campaign picture rather than the caucus result.
With Bush polling at just 4-percent in the latest Quinnipiac poll of likely Iowa caucus goers it’s no surprise he is looking to hone an electability argument against Clinton and toward New Hampshire, where the campaign has focused its resources for months.
“I believe I’m gonna win New Hampshire, to be honest with you,” he told reporters. “I honestly believe it.”
Bush’s campaign announced today eight additional staffers and four additional offices in the Granite State bringing their total to 20 staff members and 5 offices in the state. Also today, news that the campaign has purchased $600,000-plus of TV and cable advertising over the next three weeks in New Hampshire and Boston.
More advertising money has been spent in support of Bush between his campaign and the super PAC supporting his bid than for any other candidate in the race and this latest buy will feature Medal of Honor recipients touting Bush’s ability to be commander-in-chief.
Just this weekend Bush lost the endorsement of the state’s Union Leader newspaper to rival Governor Chris Christie and today questioned the publisher’s rational for the decision as far as his own candidacy is concerned.
“He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know my drive. He doesn’t know the tenacity of this campaign. He doesn’t know the depth of our organization,” Bush said.
The focus on Clinton is nothing new for Bush but his hits on the former secretary of state have become key to his argument to Republican voters that he would be the strongest candidate to take on the likely Democratic nominee.
Bush justifies that argument by presenting himself as the answer to three questions that he says “truly matter” in this election: “who has the leadership skills to solve the problems that are holding us back,” who has commander-in-chief potential and who can beat Clinton.
Climate Change Summit
As President Obama and world leaders gathered in Paris to discuss climate change, Bush confronted the issue as it was repeatedly raised by voters in Iowa, where he said, “I’m not sure I would have gone to the climate summit if I was president today.”
The governor maintained his position that the climate is changing, but continued to express uncertainty over human contributions to the change just as he says regularly on the trail.
“The climate is changing, its been changing forever,” he said. “The question is how much of it is impacted by man and what impact is that and how long will that impact play out.”
Bush’s concerns over the Paris gathering focus on the economic impact any proposals might have on the governor’s goal of economic growth and any further burden on industry.
“I haven’t seen the specifics, but I worry that, put aside intentions, that these proposals could have an impact on the here and now, on people that are really struggling right now,” he said.
Revisiting Terri Schiavo
In a rarity on the campaign trail, Bush was asked about the Terri Schiavo case during one of the town hall sessions, with a voter questioning whether or not he did enough in his quest to save the woman’s life.
“I can assure you, this was a very, very difficult time and it breaks my heart I was not successful,” he said.
The voter’s concern was met by Bush’s pledge that did everything within his constitutional authority as governor and that the limit of law is an important consideration.
“You better be serious about that,” he said of respecting the constitution. “Rule of law in this country continues to be something that keeps us extraordinary and exceptional.”