Derry, New Hampshire (CNN)His father won in 1988. His brother placed second in 2000. Now, Jeb Bush's road to the White House may depend on whether he breaks the tie in the fickle New Hampshire primary.
Can Jeb Bush break the family tie in New Hampshire?
On his second day as a declared candidate, Bush arrived Tuesday to a critical state that could either propel him beyond the cluttered Republican presidential field or extend the party's nominating fight into a messy, uncertain battle.
He was greeted by polite applause inside the historic Opera House here, holding forth with voters at a town hall meeting for more than an hour. But in New Hampshire, considering a small batch of protestors were waiting for him outside, polite is often as good as it gets, at least at this early stage of a raucous campaign.
"This is my first day. I'm a rookie at this," Bush said, a smile of humility spreading across his face. "I want your vote."
As he seeks to navigate a chaotic and crowded Republican race, the path for Bush must be a patient one, working to steadily overcome any skepticism about an American political dynasty and the still-lingering questions about his conservative record.
"I want to be your sixth choice," Bush said at one point, leading a burst of laughter at his own expense. "I'm working my way up to No. 1."
The statement, though, is far closer to true than Bush would have ever hoped -- or imagined -- when he first started weighing his presidential candidacy. The pack of Republican rivals, along with voters, don't view him as a candidate with the frontrunner's shine of his brother or father.
"I wouldn't rule him out based on his last name," said Don Russell of Windham, who came to see Bush, summing up the sentiment coursing through a Republican electorate that has been reordered by the tea party since the last time a Bush was on the ballot.
Russell and others interviewed here on Tuesday made clear they were far from sold on Bush's candidacy. He has until February to make his case to voters in New Hampshire, the state his advisers believe he stands the best chance of the four early-voting states to make his mark.
A day after rallying supporters in Miami at his formal announcement, where he delivered a speech that even many Democrats privately praised, it became clear that his challenge starts now.
More than a dozen protesters lined the street outside his town meeting. They waved signs with an array of slurs, including: "Read my lips, no new Bushes."
Leah Wolczko of Manchester, who was standing among the critics, said she recoiled at the prospect of sending another Bush to the White House. She offered a litany of reasons, from bank bailouts to runaway spending to government overreach.
"Bushes don't have a track record as conservatives," said Wolczko, who is leaning toward supporting Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. "They make government larger."
The electorate in New Hampshire, with its fierce libertarian and independent streak, is notoriously challenging terrain for mainstream Republican candidates. But advisers to Bush concede there is no strategy that does not include a full-blown, aggressive campaign effort in New Hampshire.
"As you come to expect," Bush said at the opening of his town meeting, "the first stop for a candidate -- not a potential one anymore, a real candidate -- is New Hampshire."
Here in Derry, he took question after question on fixing the economy. He renewed his call to simplify the tax code, reduce tax rates, cut government spending and implement entitlement reform. But he sought to include a disarming air of self-deprecation in many of his answers.
"Don't sell yourself short as a speaker," one voter said.
"I'll get better -- I promise," he said.
But Bush drew a sharp contrast with his 2016 opponents who serve in the Senate, saying he gained executive skills on the job "through trial and error" and didn't "hide behind the collectiveness of the legislative body."
"I didn't file an amendment and can call that success," Bush said. "I actually did things as governor."
While he is escalating his differences with his Republican opponents, Bush acknowledged in an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity here Tuesday that it's a "little awkward" to compete against his protégé and friend, Sen. Marco Rubio.
"But that's just the way it is," Bush said, still praising Rubio as a "great guy." He added, "It doesn't bother me a bit."
The exchanges at the town hall meeting -- the staple of any New Hampshire campaign -- seemed to suit Bush. The reception was far from adoring, but he had no angry confrontations with voters, particularly on an issue that is one of his biggest vulnerabilities.
"I'm looking for the guy who asks the immigration question every time," Bush said at one point. "Where is he?"
Bush, who often talks about the strength of his Catholic faith, paused momentarily when asked about Pope Francis' declaration that climate change and global warming were moral issues.
"I hope I'm not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don't get economic policy from my bishops, from my cardinals or from my pope," Bush said. He added that religion should be "about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm."
While Bush headed to Iowa following his stop in New Hampshire, his advisers have yet to determine how aggressively to compete in the first-in-the-nation caucuses that come just before the primary. Social conservatives have dominated the Iowa Republican landscape in recent election cycles, leaving his path there even more complex.
Powered by a muscular fundraising operation and the power of his political network, Bush will almost certainly make inroads as he intensifies his campaign. But several voters said they believe he may have a hard time convincing everyone he's his own man.
"People have these ingrained thoughts of somebody and no matter what happens, they'll always have them," said Don Wicks of Derry, a retiree who used to work in flooring sales. "I think he can change enough (minds) to get by, even to win."
But Hillary Clinton, he added, has the same problem.
"If they're both the candidates," he said, "they cancel each other out in that aspect."