As GOP field converges on New Hampshire, Jeb seeks to shake shadow of … – CNN
Nashua, New Hampshire (CNN)As Jeb Bush mulls whether to seek the White House as the third President Bush in as many decades, he knows he needs to prove to voters that his candidacy won’t simply be the latest product of the nation’s most famous political dynasty.
Or, as he jokingly puts it, he’s not running “to try to break the tie between the Adams family and the Bush family.”
But his comments, made Thursday night at an event in Concord, New Hampshire, acknowledge one of the biggest challenges the former Florida governor faces in the 2016 Republican presidential primary—how to come across as a fresh, exciting candidate while carrying a most familiar brand name to voters.
That challenge became especially stark earlier this week when Hillary Clinton entered the fray on the Democratic side, raising the prospect of a Bush vs. Clinton general election.
“I have enough self-awareness to know that that is an oddity,” Bush said.
Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, and brother, George W. Bush, have both been presidents. The only other father-son duo to win the presidency in American history belongs to the Adamses: John, the nation’s second president, and John Quincy Adams, the sixth.
Bush’s comments came as the political world converges on New Hampshire. Republican presidential hopefuls are blanketing the state, each scheduling several of their own events on the side of the major attraction: the state GOP’s Republican Leadership Summit, an all-day Friday and Saturday event that has drawn about 500 GOP activists and the party’s entire 2016 field to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua.
Then, on Monday and Tuesday, the Democratic front-runner they’re all vying to take on will be in town. Clinton will follow her three-day swing through Iowa with two days of meetings with New Hampshire students, educators, business leaders, activists and local officials.
In Nashua, Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are still on tap for Friday afternoon and evening.
On Saturday, the schedule, which runs from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., includes Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Here’s a look at what the candidates who have taken the stage have said so far:
Rick Perry: The former Texas governor told the crowd he’s in much better physical shape and much wiser on the issues as he makes a second run for the presidency—this time, from the back of the pack, rather than from the front-runner status he enjoyed in the late summer of 2011.
Perry, 65, acknowledged that his major back surgery that year, just weeks before he launched his presidential campaign, hurt his preparation.
“To be prepared, to stand on the stage and talk about this myriad of issues, whether it’s domestic policy, monetary policy or foreign policy, it takes years of intense studies,” Perry said. “I spent the last three years in that mode—being able to stand up and discuss all of these issues and do it in a way that is very profound and impactful.”
He played up his 14 years in the governor’s office of the nation’s largest Republican-voting state, offering it as a contrast to both President Barack Obama’s four years in the Senate and the three first-term Republican senators who have entered the race so far: Rubio, Paul and Cruz. And Perry said that “change is only going to come from the outside.”
“We’ve spent eight years with a young, inexperienced United States senator. Economically, militarily and foreign policy-wise, we’re paying a heavy price,” Perry said.
“They didn’t hand me a manual to say, ‘Here’s how you deal with a space shuttle disintegrating in your state,'” he said. “They didn’t hand me a manual when Katrina came into Louisiana, and there were literally hundreds of thousands of people that were displaced. They didn’t hand me a manual when all of those people showed up at our border last year, or, for that matter, when Ebola ended up on the shores of America in Dallas, Texas.”
Chris Christie: Just days after unveiling a raft of reforms to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security, the New Jersey governor said his willingness to wade into such politically challenging issues underscores his biggest selling point: that he’s a truth-teller.
“There is no political advantage to talking about those issues,” Christie said. “The reason you talk about them is because you want to really make suggestions that will help solve the problems that our country confronts.”
He touted his five vetoes of tax increases sent to his desk by New Jersey’s Democratic-led legislature, and said he balanced a state budget that was in an $11 billion deficit when he took office. He also lambasted Obama, saying he only cares about two Ls: “legacy and library.”
“I’m not looking to be the most popular guy in the world. I’m looking to be the most respectable,” Christie said.
He said entitlement programs are bankrupting the country, swallowing up 71% of federal spending today versus 26% five decades ago.
Christie called for Social Security benefits to be eliminated for Americans earning more than $200,000 in annual retirement income. In speeches this week, he’s also proposed a means test for those whose retirement income tops $80,000—with similar means testing for Medicare, with those with high retirement income paying a larger share of their premiums. He also suggested raising the eligibility age to 69 for both programs, though those changes would be phased in slowly.
“There are ways that we can put our fiscal house in order in this country, and we need to, and everybody who’s considering running for President of the United States should have to answer to you” about how they’ll reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Christie said.