Jeb Bush: 'Mom, my crowd sizes normally aren't this large'

Happy birthday Barbara Bush
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Story highlights

  • The 90-year-old matriarch of the Bush family hit the campaign trail for her son's presidential campaign
  • The cameo comes after Bush's dismal sixth place finish in the Iowa caucus

Derry, New Hampshire (CNN)Jeb Bush ditched his normal walk-out song Thursday night to play the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann." That's because his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, was in the house.

The 90-year-old matriarch of the Bush family, wife of a former president, and mother of another, walked out with her towering son (and a walker emblazoned with a Jeb! sticker) at a town hall as the larger-than-normal audience buzzed with a rally-like energy.
"Just wonderful to be here," she said with her gentle but ever authoritative voice. "To be with the world's nicest man."
    The audience continued to stand on their feet and a hoard of cameras and reporters looked on as the former first lady ticked off a list of motherly adoration for her second eldest son, who turns 63 next week.
    "But he's not a bragger -- we don't allow that -- but he's decent and honest," she said. "He's everything we need in a president."
    After introducing him as "the next president of the United States," Barbara Bush took a seat on the front row directly behind him.
    While she appeared in a video last month for her son, Thursday night marked the first time she came out on the trail. The cameo comes after Bush's dismal sixth place finish in the Iowa caucus and amid a heated battle for a top tier showing in New Hampshire's primary next week.
    Bush regularly gets big applause when he mentions his famous parents on the campaign trail, and it's not uncommon for voters to ask Bush to sign books about them or photos of the former first couple.
    Donald Trump has already criticized Bush for trying to bring his "mommy" out to help, and he'll likely take more heat from critics who are averse to political dynasties and don't want to see another Bush in office.
    But for his part, Jeb Bush has increasingly been embracing his family name on the campaign trail in recent weeks.
    "I'm part of the establishment because I'm Barbara Bush's son. I embrace that each and every day," he said to applause. "I'm proud of my dad, I'm proud of my brother, I'm proud of being a Bush."
    Bush even got emotional Thursday night when describing his father as the "perfect, idyllic man."
    The family's sense of humor was also on display.
    "Mom, my crowd sizes normally aren't this large," Bush quipped when he took the stage. "I wonder why."
    The former Florida governor joked that his mom was "fortunate" there were no child abuse hotlines when he and his siblings were growing up.
    "She's not as great as everybody thinks she is," Bush joked to the audience, to which he was greeted with a round of playful boos.