BETTENDORF, Iowa — The ideas that “progressive liberals” come up with make it harder for businesses to create jobs and for incomes to grow, GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush told Iowans Tuesday night.
“Whether it’s (former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary) Clinton coming to Iowa and promising more money, more regulation, more spending, or Bernie Sanders, who I think is going to get the Olympic gold medal for the most promises made in a year before the election.
“Eighteen trillion dollars of promises in new spending from the Bern,” Bush said, referring to the Sanders, a Vermont U.S. senator whose ideas include government-paid health care for all and free college tuition. “(He’s) leading, by the way, against Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.”
At his first stop on his longest Iowa trip of his campaign so far, Bush, a former Florida governor, addressed just under 500 people at the Scott County GOP Reagan Dinner Tuesday night in Bettendorf.
Bush said he wants to “reduce the relevancy” of Washington, D.C., “reform the things that are broken” and “disrupt the old order.”
“We’re going to win if we’re on the side of people that want to rise up, that want a better life,” he said.
As Florida’s leader for eight years, he said, “I applied conservative principles in ways that didn’t disparage my opponents. I tried to find ways to bring them along. I start with a premise that everybody’s a conservative. They just don’t know it yet.”
Bush said he wants a federal balanced budget amendment and a version of line-item veto power for the president.
“Veto Corleone needs to go to Washington, D.C.,” he said, referring to a nickname he earned for crossing out more than 2,500 spending items as governor.
Elected officials who don’t show up to work should get a pay cut, Bush said, to cheers.
“This idea that somehow voting isn’t important? I mean, what are they supposed to do? They should go to the committee hearings. They should vote. The idea that in the private sector, you don’t show up to work you get a pay cut, why shouldn’t that exist … in Washington, D.C.?”
As for the president, the No. 1 duty “is to keep us nation safe,” he said.
“We cannot pull back. The left wants to pull back and some voices in our own party want us to pull back. It is too dangerous. It is too dangerous to do that,” he said.
AT THE EVENT
SETTING: Quad Cities Waterfront Convention Center.
CROWD: About 475, a record for the Reagan Dinner in a non-election year, Scott County GOP Chairwoman Judy Davidson said.
REACTION: Bush got a standing ovation at the beginning and the end of his 20-minute speech.
Former social worker Karen Dixon of Bettendorf said she didn’t expect to like Bush as much as she did. “He’s not the flashiest guy on the podium. Now I’m happy to see he’s not. You want the one with the smart plan and with the background to prove he can do it, who doesn’t get caught up with cutting everyone else down. Someone who can really lift everyone up.”
Some in the room were wearing stickers for GOP rivals Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Donald Trump, but “Jeb!” stickers prevailed.
WHAT’S NEXT: Bush is on a three-day campaign trip, with stops in Muscatine, Oskaloosa, Des Moines, West Des Moines and Indianola.
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