Bush is done talking Trump, but not his expensive bed

Story highlights

  • Jeb Bush is just about done talking about Donald Trump, he said Wednesday
  • Bush said he had to learn to lower expectations

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN)Jeb Bush is just about done talking about Donald Trump, he said Wednesday.

When a reporter asked him how he can take back the narrative from the GOP presidential front-runner, Bush said with annoyance that he plans to "not answer any more questions about Donald Trump."
So it's no surprise that the former Florida governor was delighted to attend a casual event Wednesday, dubbed the "Life of the Party" series, where candidates are invited to talk about light-hearted things to help voters get to know them.
    Hosted by Stay Work Play NH and the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, the event prompts candidates to talk about which celebrities they would invite to a party, name their bucket list items, and list their favorite books.
    For Bush, it became a free-flowing hour of rare insight into the candidate's personality and his thoughts about his famous family. Voters also got a glimpse of what kinds of things Bush does in his down time and how he tries to stay centered in the frenetic world of campaign politics.
    Trump's name came up only once -- when Bush quickly asserted that Trump would not be invited to his imaginary party.
    Here are a few things we learned about Bush:

    1) Life in his father's shadow

    Sitting on stage with a group of panelists, Bush was asked to name ways in which he tries to emulate his dad. The former governor frequently expresses his adoration for former President George H.W. Bush on the campaign trail. His campaign even sells a T-shirt that says: "My dad's the greatest man alive. If you don't like it, I'll take you outside.'"
    The elder Bush has lived a storied career. A war hero who's plane was shot down in WWII, Bush later served as a Texas congressman, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, U.S. liaison to China, CIA director, vice president, and, finally, the 41st president.
    That's a lot to live up to for a son whose brother also became president. So Bush said he had to learn to lower expectations.
    "I realized if I tried to achieve what I thought my Dad was ... I would (get) about 50% of the way there. I could either accept that as a traumatic experience and go get therapy and live a miserable life, or I could accept being half the man my dad was or is and still live a life of purpose and meaning," Bush said.
    Bush said it's a tall order to try to emulate his 91-yeard-old father, but one way would be to be more "kind and generous" to people.
    "He treats the person, you know, that is serving in a hotel the same way he would treat the head of state," he said. "Strength is not defined by the volume of your voice or, you know, the outrageous things you say. It's the fortitude and integrity that you show when people aren't watching."

    2) He's still learning things about his dad

    Bush said he's currently reading the new biography about his dad by author Jon Meacham, and admitted that he's finding out even more about his father.
    "He had doubts about himself, doubts about where he was in life, that I never saw," Bush said. "I always saw him totally in charge so it was interesting insight that he was a human being ... It's kind of strange, but when you're a son of someone you don't get those kinds of insights."

    3) He has an expensive bed

    Asked how he's holding up to the grueling demands of the campaign trail, Bush said he gets "energy from working" but that he misses his wife -- and his bed -- back in Miami.
    "I bought a really good bed," he said. "This is a bed that cost about like a Yugo or a Hyundai. It's a pretty expensive bed. It's beautiful. I sleep well."

    4) Not a partier

    He may be courting voters at a lot of house parties on the trail, but Bush said his ideal party includes a small group of friends discussing a book. Asked how he would throw a party, Bush, a self-described introvert, recalled a story of taking a personality test in the governor's mansion with some other state employees. The 40 extroverts and six introverts in the group were split up and asked to plan an ideal party separately.
    "So we (the introverts) quickly decided that we were all going to read a book that week and then we would have an interesting dinner conversation -- that would be over early -- about the book that we read," he said to laughs. "And the extroverts didn't plan their party. They started partying. They literally got a Congo line together and they came into our room to mock us."

    5) He got into a fight with Matt Damon

    OK, so maybe we already knew about this one, but it's been a while since it's come up. When asked to name celebrities he would invite to his imaginary party, Bush first declared Trump would not be on the invite list, then spilled into a riff on Hollywood.
    "I really don't believe in celebritydom," he said to laughs. "I find it superficial. There's not really any actors that I would ... I got in a big match, a big fight with Matt Damon about school choice, and I don't know. It just seems so superficial. I'd rather be with people that have done things."
    It's true that the two tangled publicly over school reform in 2013, back when Bush was mostly known for being a leading advocate for charter schools. Bush knocked Damon on Twitter for refusing to enroll his kids in Los Angeles public schools, yet Damon was a staunch advocate for public schooling.
    "I'd eat my shoe if he could name a Bush that ever even walked into a public school, but that's another story," he said.
    As for two historical figures Bush would invite to his "party," he listed Winston Churchill and said he'd like to meet famed astronaut Neil Armstrong.

    6) His bucket list is REALLY simple

    Asked what was on his bucket list, Bush told a story about how someone once wrote on his Wikipedia page that he had a secret desire to be a Hollywood actor and was an avid rock climber.
    "I'm from Miami. The largest mountain in Miami is Mount Trashmore. I'm not going to climb that," he said to laughs, referring to the 225-foot landfill in South Florida.
    Bush didn't have much on his real bucket list, saying he's "seen almost everything around the world," but the main thing he wants to do is "see my grandkids grow up."
    "The things that, you know, we all take for granted, are becoming more and more powerful and meaningful for me," he added. "Now that it's the second time around, I was going so fast the first time around that I think I missed some of the really cool parts of your children's development."