Jeb Bush knows he needs to do better

November 1, 2015

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush knows he needs to improve after a rough debate performance last week, he told reporters in Iowa on Saturday, but he said he remains confident he can win the White House.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the Growth and Opportunity Party at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the Growth and Opportunity Party at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa. REUTERS/Brian C. Frank

“I’ve got to get better. I know I have to get better,” Bush said after speaking at an event in Des Moines hosted by the Republican Party of Iowa.

“I don’t have this gigantic ego that says, well, they’re just stupid. If Iowa voters don’t understand me, they’re eating Monsanto-laced agriculture products,” he said. “I have enough humility to know that I’ve got to get better.”

Bush’s debate performance, widely viewed as lackluster, contributed to a difficult week for the former Florida governor after he downsized his campaign and faced questions about whether he could win the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

On Saturday, Bush, who was surrounded after his speech by supporters seeking autographs and photos, acknowledged his weak performance, saying he “felt it wasn’t that good” during the debate.

Other candidates had better showings, including U.S. senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. But Bush said voters would be more interested in experience and electability by the time Iowa holds its nominating contest next year.

“In October, you have one set of rationale for people supporting candidates,” Bush said. “When you get to February, you have a different set.”

Separately, Bush said in a television interview that he did not see a document from his campaign detailing why Rubio would not be a good nominee until after it was leaked, according to excerpts released by NBC.

Bush was warmly received in Des Moines, but fellow Floridian Rubio got a huge welcome and was mobbed by reporters and fans from the moment he stepped off stage until he left the venue.

Gary Pitts of Des Moines said he liked Bush, but he was more excited about Rubio, snagging a photo with the lawmaker on Saturday. Pitts said he was also considering Cruz and businesswoman Carly Fiorina.

“He’s quicker, he’s got command of a lot of facts,” Pitts said of Rubio, who he said he’d met a couple of times before. “He’s got a lot of great new ideas.”

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