In N.H., Jeb Bush Draws Contrast With Scott Walker

March 14, 2015 by  

In N.H., Jeb Bush Draws Contrast With Scott Walker, The ex-Florida governor seems to be making a statement by running toward the press and embracing questions., In the driveway of a modest home on a residential street, Jeb Bush stood in the darkness Friday night, illuminated only by a lone TV camera light and surrounded by a few dozen members of the media.

It was his second media availability of the day on his first trip back to the Granite State since he campaigned for his brother George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2000. And all day, Bush had been followed, swarmed, and hedged by a pack of reporters who watched his every move. They lobbed questions at him in the hallway of a technology firm as he attempted to tour the company’s headquarters, and in the kitchen of Fergus Cullen, a former state Republican party chairman who hosted Bush for a house party, a tradition in Granite State presidential politics.

Bush seemed to be making a statement throughout the day by running toward the press and embracing questions. In addition to taking questions from reporters at both his events, Bush sat for an hour with business leaders in Hudson and took their questions, and then stood in Cullen’s living room for nearly an hour to field questions from the New Hampshire residents who had come to see him.

“We’re leading with our chin,” said one Bush adviser.

Bush took a wide array of questions from the press, dealing with topics such as: Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, the letter from Republican senators to the Ayatollah in Iran, whether Bush has changed his mind on a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (he said he hasn’t), whether he will revisit his support for the Renewable Fuel Standard since second generation biofuel producers said this week it’s not working for them (he indicated he might), and whether he’ll release his list of bundlers if he runs (he said he didn’t know).

On some questions, Bush gave vague or noncommittal replies or said he didn’t have an answer yet, as he hasn’t yet declared himself a candidate.

Bush was doing three things with this approach. First-and possibly foremost-he was issuing a challenge to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was in the state at the same time. Walker is the current darling of many in the Republican party, and is increasingly viewed as the champion of its conservative wing against the more moderate Bush.

But Walker -who at 47 is 15 years Bush’s junior-has far less political experience, especially with the national media. And Walker has already stumbled a few times in his few weeks at the front of the very large 2016 Republican pack.

Bush’s open arms approach in New Hampshire accentuated his comfort discussing a broad range of issues and his ability to stay cool under pressure. It will serve as a contrast with Walker, if the Wisconsin pol does not adapt the same style, or could even encourage the confrontational Winsconsinite to put himself before the roiling cacophony of shouted questions and camera flashes before he is ready and comfortable doing so.

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