Jeb Bush adds name to New Hampshire ballot

Story highlights

  • Bush is one of the last candidates to get on the ballot
  • His campaign has invested heavily in the state, whose independent-minded and fiscally-focused voters mesh well with Bush's brand of conservatism

Concord, New Hampshire (CNN)Jeb Bush asserted Thursday that he'll be the last Republican standing as he went through the pomp and circumstance of securing his name on the New Hampshire ballot, predicting he'll "win the nomination" despite his current struggle to gain traction in the presidential contest.

It's a must-win state that his campaign is banking on, even though the latest poll shows him falling behind outsider candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson. First-term senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are also gaining polling momentum in the Granite State.
    With the traditional fanfare of getting on the ballot, Bush walked into Secretary of State Bill Gardner's office here, surrounded by a hoard of media and supporters, to hand over his papers and a $1,000 check to file for the February primary.
    Arriving just before the deadline on Friday, Bush is one of the last candidates to get on the ballot and found a small sliver of space for his signature on a "Notice to Voters" sheet that all candidates have signed. "God bless America! -- Jeb Bush," he wrote in tiny letters.
    His campaign has invested heavily in the state, whose independent-minded and fiscally-focused voters mesh well with Bush's brand of conservatism. His campaign has hired 12 paid staffers and the candidate is in the state nearly every week as the primary season nears. Meanwhile, the pro-Bush super PAC, Right to Rise, has invested millions in ad buys in New Hampshire.
    Bush is betting on history.
    In an editorial board meeting with New Hampshire's Union Leader on Thursday, he brushed off the fervor for the current leaders of the Republican pack, saying if "history is any guide," he'll take the state in the end. He cited statistics that say a bulk of voters don't make a decision until the week before the primary and argued that they traditionally back the candidate they view as the most electable and competent.
    And history was certainly part of the filing Thursday.
    Gardner's office in New Hampshire statehouse is a museum of past election cycles, and as Bush looked around the walls, he could see pictures of his brother, President George W. Bush, and father, President George H. W. Bush, on the trail.
    Bush was the fifth member of his family to make the trip to his office, Gardner told reporters. In the 1980 primary, George H.W. Bush filed in person, but as president in the 1992 election, he sent his wife, Barbara Bush. And in the 2000 election, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush filed himself, but sent his sister Dorothy in the 2004 election when he was President.
    After filing, Jeb Bush was asked to reflect on his family's legacy with the primary. "Look, I'm proud of my family," Bush told reporters. "I'm all in, and it is an emotional time and I'm proud to be here. I'm going to work really hard to win."
    Bush also fielded questions about the Syrian refugee crisis and continued his full court press against President Barack Obama over foreign policy.
    "He is part of the reason why we have this refugee problem -- humanitarian crisis that is tragic. His lack of leadership is the reason why this exists. It's up to him to fix it, and if he doesn't, I will," Bush said.
    He added later in the editorial board meeting that Obama has been "delusional" in his way of handling the ISIS threat.
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    Bush brushed off a question at the statehouse about Trump saying Wednesday that Bush's campaign is "over" and played down reports on how a media coach has been helping his performance on the debate stage and on the campaign trail.
    "I was working with a guy for three sessions as it relates to the debate, that's it," Bush said. "If you follow me around in the campaign, I think you'll get a pretty good sense that I'm all in on this."
    In the editorial board meeting, Bush was asked if he has the fire in his belly to "hit" Hillary Clinton and go after her on the debate stage.
    "I can hit her ... not physically," he said. "I can make a forceful case against her ... hell yeah, I can do it." He cited battles he waged against unions when he was governor, saying he hit the "hornets' nest."
    "I was viewed as a threat, and I won. I crushed them," he said. "I'll do it on the stage in the debate if need be, and I'll certainly do it against Hillary Clinton."