Hearty reception and tough questions greet Jeb Bush in Nashua
NASHUA, N.H. — The environment at the Nashua Country Club on Monday morning looked entirely auspicious for Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.). Then came the questions.
A polite crowd of around 200 Rotary Club members greeted Bush with polite, careful applause, but spoke frankly with him in a Q&A session after the governor's 20-minute speech.
One guest asked about campaign spending limits, prompting a deft and frank answer from Bush.
"I would overturn it on stead," Bush said, a notable answer given his combined $3.5 million spending effort with the super PAC Right to Rise on New Hampshire TV ads since December.
Other questioners drew detailed responses from Bush on his record as governor in Florida, including his ban on affirmative action and replacement with the "One Florida" program, support for child care payments and advocacy for a "peace through strength" military motto.
Bush refrained from overt political attacks, only referencing one rival candidate by name: 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump.
"It's not strong to insult women. It's not strong to castigate Hispanics. It's not strong to ridicule the disabled," he said.
The Monday morning event was not open to the public, a strange choice for Bush on the day before the primary, given that he was only scheduled for one more public event in the evening (which multiple inches of snow in the area could conceivably neutralize).
Couched between some sensitive finer points about absent husbands and veteran care, Bush's dry sense of humor was on (not quite full) display in the morning. He cracked a few jokes though.
Arriving to the club amid some flurries of snow, the Texan-born Florida transplant said upon entering, "What are these white things?"
A similarly dry reception greeted the club's introductory speaker, who upon formally inviting Bush to speak, asked him if "it'll be a good time to clap," a reference to his much-maligned demand at a Thursday event for the crowd to "please clap."
Bush exited immediately after taking three questions, potentially due to the onslaught of snow.