Jeb Bush was asked whether his brother's secretary of defense is advising him
A heckler also peppered Bush with questions about the Iraq War
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s brother’s legacy in the Iraq War continued to haunt his candidacy Friday, when he faced questions from an audience at the Iowa State Fair about his relationship to the policies of President George W. Bush.
One of the fair-goers asked the Republican presidential candidate during his appearance on the Des Moines Register Soapbox whether he was being advised by Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush’s deputy secretary of defense and the architect of his Iraq War policy.
Jeb Bush tried to spin the question away from his legacy as the son and brother of the last two Republican presidents, but he did so awkwardly.
“Paul Wolfowitz is providing some advice,” Bush said. “I get most of my advice from a team that we have in Miami, Florida. Young people that are going to be … they’re not assigned, have experience either in Congress or the previous administration.”
He continued: “This game, the parlor game that’s played, you know, where you have 25, 30 or 40 people that are helping you with foreign policy, and if they have any executive experience, they’ve had to deal with two Republican administrations – who were the people that were presidents, the last two Republican? I mean, this is kind of a tough game for me to be playing, to be honest with you.”
Bush repeated his pledge that he was his “own person” and pointed the audience to the foreign policy speech he gave earlier this week in California, saying that was where he articulated his policies if spectators wanted more information.
Right before the adviser question, Bush faced several other questions about the Iraq War and the deal to pull troops out in 2011. The withdrawal was a target of Bush’s critique of President Barack Obama’s policy on ISIS in his California speech.
After interruptions by the questioner, Bush tried to move the conversation to the fight against ISIS and the situation in Syria.
Bush did get a big reaction from the crowd when he gave out his email address, subtly drawing a contrast with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. One comment from an audience member was a “great idea,” Bush said.
“So here’s the deal: my email address, write it down and send me your thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org,” he said, noting he had made his email address and archives available as governor of Florida as well.
“I think we need a lot more transparency in politics today,” he said, to cheers from the crowd.
CNN’s Ashley Killough reported from Des Moines, Iowa, and Tal Kopan reported from Washington.