ANDERSON — As the South Carolina primaries edge ever closer, more and more 2016 presidential candidates are headed to the Upstate for one last attempt to woo voters in their direction.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was no exception, holding a “meet and greet” at the Anderson Civic Center on Feb. 12.
Bush was introduced by Central native Sen. Lindsay Graham, who endorsed Bush after officially ending his own bid for the White House in January.
“There’s an expression in North Florida, I don’t know if it’s similar here, like when you’re happy, you’re like a ‘pig in slop,’” said Bush as he took the floor. “Well, I’m like a pig in slop because I get to hang out with Lindsay Graham all week.”
Despite his jovial entrance, Bush was quick to get down to business and address serious issues.
“A lot of times we don’t need government, a lot of times, government, we just wish it didn’t exist. Think if you’re a small business person or you’re frustrated with how the veterans department works … you’d like to start over maybe,” he said. “But when people really need it, that’s the sign of when you’re a leader or not. Do you run to the challenge? Do you run to the fire and try to take it out? Or do you blame somebody else? I get a sense that the current occupant of the White House isn’t one of those guys.”
President Obama aside, Bush also took the opportunity to take jabs at Hillary Clinton, referencing the private email server scandal as well as Donald Trump who he referred to as “a reality TV star” who “pushes people down to make himself look better.”
“He (Trump) pushes down women to make himself feel strong. He pushes down Hispanics. I have no idea why he feels compelled to do that. He pushes down people with disabilities thinking that that is a sign of strength when everybody in this room knows that that is a sign of deep insecurity and weakness.”
He dismissed Cruz and Rubio as “freshman Senators with the ability to turn a phrase.”
“Untested people during difficult and dangerous times is a risk,” Bush said, referring to Cruz and Rubio. “And I’m here to tell you that I have a proven record of taking on big challenges.”
Bush defended his family, stating that he was proud to be President George H. W. Bush’s son and George W. Bush’s brother claiming that their relationships have allowed him a “front row seat in watching history unfold.”
Bush has struggled in South Carolina polls, consistently trailing well behind Trump, Cruz and Rubio. As of Sunday, he was neck and neck with John Kasich after the Ohio governor received a sharp increase following Saturday’s debate.
The Bush campaign has several more stops throughout South Carolina planned before the Republican primary on Feb. 20.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.