WASHINGTON Jeb Bush brought out his famous family four days before the crucial U.S. presidential primary in New Hampshire, tapping his mother on Friday to scold Republican front-runner Donald Trump over his use of profanity and treatment of women.
In a last ditch attempt to make a mark on a Republican primary campaign he was supposed to own, Bush lashed out at both Trump and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, the one-time protege who has eclipsed Bush as the party's establishment candidate in the 2016 White House race.
New opinion polls following Monday's Iowa caucuses showed Trump retaining a double-digit lead in New Hampshire's primary next Tuesday with Rubio rapidly rising into second place in the state as Republicans battle for the nomination in November's presidential election.
Bush, the former governor of Florida, leaned on his well-known family for support.
While former President George W. Bush appeared in a new ad praising his brother as having "a good heart and a strong backbone" and being able to unite the country, Jeb Bush sat with his mother for an interview with CBS show "This Morning."
The two attacked Trump as misogynistic and vulgar after he used a four-letter word in a recent campaign appearance.
"I don't think a president would have ever shouted profanities in a speech in front of thousands of people with kids in the crowd," Jeb Bush said. "He does it all the time."
His mother lambasted Trump for criticizing Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly after she had quizzed him at a Republican debate in August. Trump made comments widely interpreted as referring to her menstrual cycle.
"I don't know how women can vote for someone who said what he said about Megyn Kelly," Mrs. Bush said. "It's terrible. And we knew what he meant, too."
Much loved by today's Republicans, the former first lady herself raised eyebrows in 1984 when she reportedly made a derogatory reference to Democratic vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman on a major party ticket, saying, "I can't say it, but it rhymes with rich."
"ALMOST TOO POLITE"
Trump has dismissed Jeb Bush as a "low-energy" loser. The son and brother of U.S. presidents who was expected to glide to the Republican nomination, Bush has struggled to seize the offensive and trails in the single digits in many national polls.
Mrs. Bush, who was campaigning for her younger son in New Hampshire, said "America needs" Jeb and drew an implicit contrast to the brash swagger of Trump. "He's got the same values that America seems to have lost. He's almost too polite."
While rivals took aim at him, Trump was forced to miss a rally on Friday in Londonderry, New Hampshire because of a snow storm. He returned to New York and Thursday, a spokesman said, and could not get back to the state. Trump has eschewed much of the one-on-one retail politicking of typical campaigns in favour of large rallies. But in New Hampshire, where voters are used to having candidates' close attention, the strategy could hurt.
Jeb Bush seized the opportunity to make fun of Trump on Twitter, pointing out that even his mother was able make it out despite the weather.
"My 90 year old mother made it out to campaign,” he wrote in response to Trump's tweet that he was moving a campaign event to Monday due to a "big storm." An attached photograph showed Mrs. Bush, wearing a pearl necklace, shaking hands with a five-year-old girl in New Hampshire.
Jeb Bush also stepped up attacks on Rubio as lacking in experience and accomplishments, saying on MSNBC the first-term Florida lawmaker had done "nothing" in the U.S. Senate.
Rubio got a bounce from his Iowa performance with a WMUR/CNN poll showing him rising 7 points to 18 percent. Trump held steady at 29 percent, while Cruz gained 1 point for 13 percent. An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist survey showed Trump with 30 percent, Rubio at 17 percent and Cruz 15.
For the Democrats, opinion polls show U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont with a double-digit lead in New Hampshire over rival Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state. Clinton went on the attack against Sanders on Thursday in their most contentious presidential debate yet.
(Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson in New Hampshire, Amy Tennery in New York, Mohammad Zargham in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott and Alistair Bell; For more on the 2016 presidential race, see the Reuters blog, “Tales from the Trail”; here)
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Published Date: Feb 06, 2016 01:16 AM | Updated Date: Feb 06, 2016 01:16 AM