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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush calls Marco Rubio a 'career politician'



Jeb Bush called Marco Rubio a "career politician" with little record to speak of and shot down Rubio's argument the GOP should rally behind him.

Bush also pointed to a poll showing him in second place (note: another poll released Thursday showed Rubio in second)

"The surge, if there is one, isn't that, isn't that strong," Bush told Kelly O'Donnell of NBC News. "Every candidate has to have their record examined, every candidate has to earn it, there should be no coronations here. And my case is I'm a conservative and I've proved it, by doing it, by being a governor of the state where I applied conservative principles. Marco Rubio is a gifted politician, but his whole life has been around his own ambitions. And he’s a gifted, he can turn a phrase really well but what has he done?, what has he done? And that's the question that I think people here in the granite state will start asking, and when they do I think they'll want to have someone with steady hand, with a proven record. We've had seven years with a guy who was gifted, who could give a great speech. But he's divided the country, he has no leadership skills and I think we need someone now to fix the mess in Washington than just perpetuate it.

More from the interview below: 

KO: Do you think the accomplishment's argument can work in a year when people seem to want someone from the outside, or someone different, or new?

JB: So, Marco Rubio has been a politician since he was 26 years old. Gifted beyond belief, but he's not from the outside, he's been a career politician, there's nothing in his record that would suggest that he could make a tough decision. And I don't think we need people cutting and running anymore. We need someone that goes to the fire, that challenges the things that are broken, that brings people together to forge consensus. And my experience is one of a disrupter in the largest swing state in the country, and that's the story I tell, and it seems to resonate with more and more people moving my way.

KO: New Hampshire voters want people to know that they are not Iowa, that they make their own decisions.

JB: Yeah for sure.

KO: Different things appeal here. You're among a few governors who are trying to compete in that lane.

JB: Yep.

KO: And do you think you can make a difference here? Ah Because the polling has been tough on you for most of this race. You've had some, some really rough patches.

JB: Well in New Hampshire that's not the case, New Hampshire we've been moving up. Um we're either second or third in every poll and we're running a national campaign, we have the resources to go the distance. And New Hampshire is going to treat me well, I hope. I'm going to work hard over the next five days to earn their support.

KO: Your mother Barbara Bush who was first lady also obviously mother of a president, will join you in New Hampshire. What does it mean for you to have her on the campaign trail? How willing is she to be out here?

JB: She volunteered. I didn't want to, look my mom's 90 years old, I'm not going to say can you go out five days, work 13 hours a day but she wanted to come. And um I love her dearly and America loves her. So I'm looking forward tonight, it's going to be a lot of fun she is a person with extraordinary good humor, and ah people, people lover her and I do too.

JB: And by the way, I'm her favorite so that even, that even makes it more special.

KO: We do remember when she said there have been enough Bushes and there are other families that can serve. Does that hang in the air between you?

JB: (Laughs) No, I marked her down as neutral at that point. Ah since that time she's been my biggest supporter. She has a walking. whatever you call it, carts. She has, she puts Jeb bumper stickers in the front of it and hands them out when she walks her little dogs every day in Houston. And she's been my biggest grass-roots supporter.

KO: I know you've tried to stay your own man, you have your own record, your own life of experiences and accomplishments. And having your mother here is in a way embracing the Bush family and the Bush legacy.

JB: Yeah.

KO: And is that something you feel you've tried to separate?

JB: No, I've never, this is not so complex for me. I love my mom, I love my dad, I love my brother, I'm honored to be in this family, it's a blessing and I've never tried to disassociate myself from the people I love. But I know, I know about politics and politics you got to, you got tell your story as well and mine's one that's different than others, Ah in my family  but we love each other, ah fiercely. I've been involved in every one of these campaigns, more than politics, I love my dad and I love my brother. I would never try to separate myself from them.

KO: You've been able to raise an enormous amount of money and it's also been really, a higher dollar-per-vote in Iowa. And there's been pressure, donors who say you have not performed well enough. Are you hearing whispers from donors?

JB: No, no; in fact, we've got hundreds of people knocking on doors that have, that have raised money for me. The Jeb alumni, this loyal group of people that I've got to work with for eight years, turning Tallahassee upside down, have ah been knocking on doors here. Ah I haven't heard it. Ah I always, it's funny, I heard about these donors, they never name their names do they? It's always some mystery person. You know if they got a problem they can just call me up or say who they are when they talk to the press.

KO: Do you think that this has been an experience that is in some ways humbling for you? Has this been not at all what you expected it to be?

JB: It's, it's humbling to run for president ah for anybody. If you love your country, it is an honor, it is an incredible privilege and I do it with an appreciation for the greatness of this country. And I know that it's not bean bag. Look, I've been around a long time and this is not any different than any election. It's different in some ways, but not so different in terms of the you know it's a rough and tumble deal and I've got my big-boy pants on and I'm not worried about it a bit.

KO: When you see that Trump was not such a winner in Iowa, he did well but he did not win. And Ted Cruz has been pretty sharp in his attacks on Trump which he was not willing to do early on. Do you welcome Cruz sort of hitting on Trump? Do you think that is a fight that might actually benefit you?

JB: Well, first of all I'm the only guy up ‘til now that has been pointing out that Donald Trump is not a conservative, and he's not a serious person and we need a serious person being commander in chief during dangerous times. So I appreciate the fact that Senator Cruz is now joined the fray. Um and I think it's important. You got to vet candidates, candidates have to be able to defend themselves. Donald Trump has not been challenged. He plays you guys like a Stradivarius violin Its amazing, he can change the conversation and everyone just kind of falls, falls in line. But what's his views on ISIS, he's got six different views on ISIS. What his views on China? He's basically calling for a 45 percent tariff that would lead to a global depression. I mean this is, we're running for the presidency of the United States. This is not a reality TV show and I applaud Senator Cruz for pointing some of these things out.

KO: For people who are itching to hear you say " It's not my year. For the good of the party, I'm going to step aside and we're going to consolidate around someone else." You would say what?

JB: I would say first of all not a single delegate has been selected. We haven't even gone to the first primary yet. I would say take a chill pill, let the democracy work, let people go see who the candidates are, what their record is, what detailed plans they have. We got a long way to go. I know that we're living in the tyranny of the press where everything has to be done in the next hour or something like that. I trust the voters not the pundits.

KO: Thank you Governor, I appreciate it.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 4, 2016 1:25pm]


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