WOLFEBORO, N.H.—Jeb Bush is assuring voters he will fix Washington and his own flawed candidacy as he rejuvenates his bid for the White House by traversing the Granite State in a logo emblazoned campaign bus.
“At the end of the day places like New Hampshire make up their mind based on who they want to see be the party nominee to be president of the United States,” Bush said. “Not to pray on their fears, not to fulfill their angst.”
The two-pronged 'fix it' message reflects a humbled Bush who acknowledges his own shortcomings – particularly on the debate stage – and an attempt to crystalize his experience-centric message around a unifying #JebCanFixIt theme.
“I eat nails before I have breakfast,” Bush said just before heading to New Hampshire. “This is a tough fight and I knew it was gonna be hard.”
During the three-day tour of New Hampshire the governor is keeping a non-stop schedule with events in more than a half-dozen cities and national TV interviews on every network. Along the way, there is particular focus on testimonials from people out of Bush’s past – attesting to his work in Florida – and pledging he’ll repeat the work in Washington.
The tour comes as Bush attempts to turn the page on a few rough weeks for his campaign and set himself up for a much-needed strong debate performance next week in Milwaukee.
“I think I do pretty good when I’m out with real people interacting with them. I have fun doing it,” Bush told reporters on his Bus Wednesday. “But the debate process is different.”
For his part, the governor hasn’t shared specifics for bettering his own candidacy beyond pledging to do so. It’s a marked contrast to the litany of policy proposals he’s laid out and his fondness for benchmarks and accountability in reforms.
“I’m going to be myself by saying what’s on my mind,” he said. “What’s on my mind right now is the debate.”
Bush said the advice for improvement has been plentiful and it isn’t always easy to accept because it can be “totally conflictive,” but he told reporters he’s come around to it.
“It’s a complement, life would be far worse if I woke up one day and no one decided that they wanted to share anything with me,” he said. “It’d be a bad sign.”