Republican Jeb Bush was back in New Hampshire Thursday. The former Florida governor used a stop at Foss Manufacturing in Hampton to go after GOP rival Donald Trump. Trump, of course, has been deriding Bush for weeks, but criticism of Trump – at least for now -- is a central message of Bush’s campaign.
Bush tends to compare himself to a tortoise, slow and steady. Trump tends to ridicule Bush as low energy. At his Hampton campaign stop this week, Bush strove to cut a dynamic figure, and one committed to prosperity.
“If I’m elected president, I will tell you that I will wake up each day with passion and conviction to make sure that peoples’ pocketbooks are full of more money," he said.
But Bush was out to do more than just blunt Trump’s criticism. He took repeated aim at the celebrity businessman, his shifting views on health care, and on taxes – Trump has said the rich should pay more. Bush also cast Trump as someone whose politics prey on “fear and angst.”
“My belief is if we create the right climate, America is going to rise up and lead the world for the next generation of time," Bush said. "Donald Trump’s view is that the end is near. His pessimistic view is let’s close the borders, let’s create tariffs, let’s do this, let’s do that, all based on negativity. “
Bush’s focus on Trump drew little reaction from the employee-only crowd at Foss. It also runs counter to Bush’s ambition to run what he’s described as a “joyful” race. But as Trump’s campaign has achieved front-runner status nationally and in New Hampshire, so too, apparently, has the pressure for Bush to respond directly.
University of New Hampshire political scientist David Moore says going after Trump isn’t a sure bet: "And I don’t think anybody, can really say for sure if that’s a better strategy or whether it would be better to simply ignore Trump and to continually present himself in the most favorable light."
There were indications that Jeb Bush was trying to do a bit of both in Hampton. Recall that Trump has criticized the bilingual Bush for campaigning in Spanish.
“So here I am a candidate for President of the United States, believing we should campaign con brazos abiertos, with open arms," Bush said.