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Jeb Bush Makes His Pitch As GOP Race Nears the End in N.H.

Jack Rodolico for NHPR
Jeb Bush speaking at Colby Sawyer on Wednesday

Gary Mountford of New London is exasperated. He likes former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. But there’s a central challenge Bush has faced since he announced his candidacy for president.

"I wish more people were listening," says Mountford.

Mountford, who caught Bush at Colby-Sawyer College on Wednesday, says voters are making decisions based on false choices presented by the press.

Bush "is articulate, he has plans, he’s not trying to play to people’s hatred and fear," says Mountford.

Bush continues his campaign for president across New Hampshire. His pitch? He’s the candidate with the best record of leadership.

Bush played up his leadership experience in front of a town-hall crowd of about 150 people. He dismissed President Barack Obama, saying he won the White House without any real experience. Then he linked Obama to the three Republican caucus winners in Iowa. His verdict: Donald Trump is a bad businessman, and Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are junior senators with no leadership experience.

"I hope you want someone who has a reformer’s heart, and who has a backbone and actually has the skills to change the culture in Washington," Bush said.

Bush is facing increased pressure from within the Republican establishment to get out of the race if he doesn’t have a strong showing in New Hampshire. But as of January 1, Bush’s campaign had $7.6 million, and a super PAC supporting him had $58.6 million. That’s quite a financial life raft, even for a candidate who’s struggled to raise his head above single digits in most polls.

Mary Lotterhand of New London liked what Bush had to say.

"Maybe he doesn’t come across to the general public as well as he does, say, on a personal basis," said Lotterhand.

Still, with a handful of Republican candidates left to choose from, Lotterhand described herself as, quote, “very undecided.”

Before joining NHPR in August 2014, Jack was a freelance writer and radio reporter. His work aired on NPR, BBC, Marketplace and 99% Invisible, and he wrote for the Christian Science Monitor and Northern Woodlands.
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