A day after sharply criticizing Hillary Rodham Clinton while outlining his strategy to fight the Islamic State, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Wednesday the key to winning the 2016 election is “campaigning with your arms wide open” and “joy in your heart.”
During a meet-and-greet in Reno, the former Florida governor told about 200 people to resist getting behind those candidates who appeal to voters’ anger and fear about the future.
“I know how to win. You win campaigning with your arms wide open. You win with joy in your heart. You don’t win appealing to people’s basic fears and angst. You win by giving them a sense that their future can be brighter,” he said.
Bush said campaigning positively is a better approach.
“You win respecting everybody. Even if they don’t agree with you, you respect them and you try to persuade them that our ideals, our philosophy, our ideology is the winning one for the majority of Americans,” Bush said.
Bush’s campaign swing through Nevada came the day after he hammered Clinton and President Barack Obama during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, arguing the departure of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011 under their watch allowed Islamic State militants to take hold in the Middle East.
In that speech, he questioned the idea that America and its allies are safer today than when Obama, with Clinton as his secretary of state, took office in 2009.
But Bush told reporters after his Reno event there’s a difference between his criticism of Clinton’s policies and his rejection of campaigning by appealing to anger.
“They are not personal attacks, for starters. They are based on flawed policy,” Bush said. “I’m not attacking her. I’m just pointing out that the foreign policy that they have implemented was one that created a more dangerous world. … I think it’s fair to be critical of a foreign policy that has pulled us back where we are no longer reliable allies.”
Bush said that his rival for the Republican nomination, billionaire businessman Donald Trump, has “clearly tapped into a sentiment in our party of anger and angst about the future.”
But while he said he understands why people are angry, he said it was wrong to appeal directly to those emotions.
“We ought to appeal to their belief that if we fix things applying conservative principals in the right way, that their anger will subside because we’ll actually be able to work together,” Bush said. “My message is one that hope’s on the way, not that how bad things are.”
At Bush’s North Las Vegas appearance Wednesday night, the last question asked for his solutions to racial injustices as they relate to fatal police shootings of black men, police training and prison populations.
“Look, we have serious problems,” he said. “There is racism in America. No one should deny that, although there’s been significant progress.”
Bush said he would encourage local leaders to be more engaged to prevent “despair and isolation” in communities and that education is key.
“A child that is educated, that believes that their chances of going to college and living a life of purpose and meaning, is important,” he said.
Bush left the town hall as some in the crowd of about 150 people chanted “black lives matter.” Several of those chanting also wore pink shirts that read “I stand with Planned Parenthood.”
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.