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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bush's 'stuff happens' comment causes latest headache

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, left, speaks at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson moderated the event.

Mykal McEldowney | The Greenville News via AP

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, left, speaks at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson moderated the event.



Jeb Bush is under siege for saying “stuff happens” in the aftermath of yesterday's mass shooting in Oregon.

Democrats pounced. But others said the comment — which spread across Twitter and made its way to a news conference with President Obama — was ripped out of context.

A review of the video (transcript below) shows that Bush was not directly asked about the tragedy. "Liberal Dems & some in media distorted my words to advance their agenda in wake of tragedy," Bush wrote on Twitter. "It's wrong. Thx to those who set record straight."

Still, it adds to a growing list of comments Bush has had to clean up, fanning critics on the left and right.

When reporters asked Bush after he shot back, "I said what I said." He went on: "A child drowns in a pool and the impulse is to pass a law that puts fencing around a pool. ... The cumulative effect of this is that in some cases, you don’t solve the problem by passing the law and you’re imposing on large numbers of people burdens that make it harder for our economy to grow, make it harder to protect liberty."

Here is the full exchange Bush had today in South Carolina.

Q:  Do you think the second amendment bestows individual rights or rights of a militia?


BUSH I think it bestows individual rights and I think that’s what – and I think it needs to be protected.  And the best place to sort these issues out is at the state level.  The federal government tries to add these one size fits all rules.  Look, South Carolina is different than New York City.  In Florida, when I was governor, I was the NRA statesman of the year.  It was on my highlight reel where Charlton Hesston gave me a gun on stage in front of 15,000 people.  That was pretty cool to be honest with you.  We have in Florida we believe that concealed weapons permits are a proper thing.  We have 1.2 million concealed weapon holders, more than double the next state.  We have right to carry, all sorts of rules that are appropriate for Florida, may not be appropriate for other places.  But the basic right is embedded – I mean it’s a personal right, it’s an individual right to bear arms and that should be infringed by either local state or federal law for sure. 

The tendency when we have these tragedies that took place yesterday, it's just heartbreaking to see these things, but this is the broader question of rulemaking -- I think is an important point to make, that whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system, more often at the federal level, but also at the state level, is to do something, right?  And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999% of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something.  And we're taking people's rights away each time we do that and we're not necessarily focusing on the real challenge.  So if we have people that are just mentally ill to the point where they go into the vortex and they don't come out and they're hateful, and they're in isolation, and they kill people, the impulse in Washington is, take personal rights away from the rest of us.  And it won't solve the problem of the tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see.  Maybe we ought to be more connected to our communities.  Maybe we ought to have greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country.  Maybe there's a better way to deal with this than taking people's human -- personal liberty away every time we kind of require people to do something.”

Q:  And I remember right after Columbine – this is a long, long time ago, I was listening to the radio, they were talking about how schools are not allowed to have prayer vigils.  You’re not allowed to pray, I should say, or have, you know, Christian or Jewish or whatever faith-based groups on these public education schools.  But then the guy said, it’s funny, you send a guy in with an oozy or a handgun to shoot a bunch of people, the first thing they do, prayer vigil.  Whatever the faith based group is, and he said you should do that on the front end, maybe you wouldn’t have those tragedies on the back end.

BUSH: 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 sad to see.  But I resist the notion -- and I had this challenge as governor, because we had -- look, stuff happens, there's always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something, and it's not necessarily the right thing to do.  15:22:47 

[Last modified: Friday, October 2, 2015 6:16pm]


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