Jeb’s growing list of unfortunate comments
POLITICO // POLITICO STAFF
A day after a massacre on a U.S. college campus, Jeb Bush said “stuff happens” but that it should not lead to tighter gun restrictions.
This isn’t the first time the 2016 contender, who has been struggling to connect with voters, has conveyed his ideas poorly.
Here are some of Bush’s most ill-worded comments since launching his campaign.
1. “Stuff happens”
Speaking about gun control a day after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, Bush said: “We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s very bad to see,” the former Florida governor said. Then he added: “Look, stuff happens and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
2. “People need to work longer hours”
Weeks after his campaign launch, a comment Bush made to the editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader in July caught the eye of Democratic opposition researchers, who seized on the Republican’s apparent suggestion that people weren’t working hard enough.
“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see,” Bush said. “Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours.”
He quickly explained that he was talking about underemployment, saying many employers weren’t offering employees a full 40-hour work week due, he said, to Obamacare’s mandate that all full-time workers receive healthcare. But the political damage was done.
3. “Phase out” Medicare
During a town hall in Manchester, Bush was speaking about the need to reform Medicare when he said: “We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something — because they’re not going to have anything.”
He attempted to clarify the following day, explaining that he wants to reform Medicare rather than do away with the program altogether.
4. Women’s health programs overfunded
In the wake of the controversial videos showing Planned Parenthood staffers allegedly selling fetal tissue for profit, Bush was asked about the organization’s funding during an appearance at a conference of evangelicals in South Carolina. But he misspoke, as he would quickly acknowledge, suggesting that the government spent too much money on “women’s health” programs as a whole.
“I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars in funding for women’s health programs,” Bush said.
5. “Anchor Babies”
As Donald Trump took up immigration reform, Bush, who had been blasting Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, suddenly used a loaded term in a radio interview.
“If there’s abuse, if people are bringing — pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement,” Bush said on Bill Bennett’s conservative radio show, “Morning in America,” in August. “That’s [the] legitimate side of this. Better enforcement so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies’, as they’re described, coming into the country.”
6. Anchor Babies redux
A day later in New Hampshire, Bush defended his usage of “anchor babies” to reporters. “You give me a better term and I’ll use it,” Bush snapped. “Give me another word.”
7. He meant “Asians”
The next week during a trip to the border town of McAllen, Tex., Bush attempted to clean up the “anchor babies” mess and inadvertently committed another gaffe, explaining that the phenomenon he referred to was mainly due to Asians.
“What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there’s organized efforts — frankly, it’s more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children in that organized efforts, taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship,” Bush said.
During a September event in Iowa, Bush, who is married to woman of Mexican ancestry and speaks Spanish at home and on the campaign trail, asserted his opposition to multiculturalism.
“We should not have a multicultural society,” Bush said at an event in Iowa, before beginning a longer explanation of his views of what comprises culture in the United States
“When you create pockets of isolation — and in some places the process of assimilation has been retarded because they’ve slowed down — it’s wrong,” he added. “It limits people’s aspirations.”
9. “Free Stuff”
Two nights later in South Carolina, less than an hour after he clarified to reporters what he was trying to say about multiculturalism—which, he explained, differs from pluralism—Bush responded to a question at a shrimp dinner fundraiser about how he planned to win a greater share of the African-American vote than previous Republican nominees, should he win the primary.
“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” Bush said to a friendly crowd of 300. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”