WASHINGTON, IOWA, June 17, 2015 - After formally announcing his candidacy for president of the United States on Monday in Florida and visiting New Hampshire on Tuesday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush traveled to Iowa on Wednesday to explain why he wants to win voters' hearts and minds.
Bush led off the Iowa tour with a “meet and greet” in the yard of Grant Mangold in the predominately rural community of Washington, Iowa. Mangold is a former Washington County supervisor and local Republican Party leader. About 75 local residents and a throng of national media gathered in the yard to hear Bush state his views on what the next president should be like.
“We have to change how Washington, D.C., works,” Bush began his first Iowa speech after officially joining the crowded GOP field of presidential contenders. “Shrinking government and making it more efficient should be the main job of the next president.” As governor of Florida, Bush said he “was able to apply conservative principles, not just talk about them, but apply them.”
He noted he cut taxes every year - $19 billion over eight years and reduced the government work force by 13,000. Bush joked that in Florida he was nicknamed "Veto Corleone," because of the record number (2,500) line item vetoes of legislators' local projects he cut from the state budget. “That amounted to a $5 billion savings,” he noted.
“I’m a reformer,” declared Bush. “I changed the direction the state was going in,” adding "that’s what the next president of the United States needs to do.” He said he would work to reduce the size of government, especially agencies like the EPA and USDA.
BACK YARD MEET AND GREET: Presidential candidate Jeb
Bush launched his campaign in the Hawkeye state at a residence in Washington, Iowa.
Comprehensive immigration reform is the way to restore economic growth, continued Bush. “We first need to secure the border. Then we need to develop a system to verify those that are here. Kids born here to illegal parents ought to have a way to earn citizenship as well as the parents, over time. That’s not amnesty.” He favors a provisional work permit and perhaps a fine before earning legal status and added that illegal aliens who commit crimes should be deported.
Although the candidate was in a state where agriculture is “king” and he was surrounded by a farming community, he did not mention agriculture in his remarks. Local farmer Keith Hora stated that the Bush campaign had called him a week earlier, asking to have the event at his farm. “Then they changed their minds and wanted an urban setting,” said Hora, a former president of the National Corn Growers Association. The population of Washington, Iowa, is about 7,200.
Later in the day, Bush held a “town hall meeting” at the Molengracht Plaza in Pella, Iowa. A crowd estimated at around 500 gave him a standing ovation when he was introduced by Pella Mayor James Mueller.
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“We can talk about how bad things are, such as a farmer or businessman in Iowa that is overwhelmed by regulations. But that won’t be fixed if we continue to argue about it. If we fix that, it will be one of the greatest times to live in the United States.”
He went on to say the way to achieve 4 percent growth in the economy is to reduce taxes and regulations, fix immigration, embrace renewable energy and fix the retirement system.
In answer to a question from the audience on government overspending, Bush said entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid need to be reformed. However, he noted three areas that do need more funding -- research and development, the space program and infrastructure.
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