SC voter confronts Jeb Bush, asks him if he can narrow the margin with Donald Trump
LEXINGTON, SC (WIS) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has a message for South Carolina voters: he can fix the nation. But some South Carolina voters are afraid his campaign may be past fixing.
"I'm really honored that you're here, and I'd love to have your support," Bush said, standing in front of two banners reading "Jeb!" and "Jeb Can Fix It," the second slogan was adopted by his campaign after a lackluster performance in CNBC's Republican Primary debate.
WEB EXTRA: Watch the CNBC Debate wrap-up.
Bush's debate performance was not directly brought up during Tuesday's midday rally at the Lexington VFW post, but both Jeb and his supporters tried to put the idea of a campaign in trouble out of sight and mind with voters.
"Bless this campaign," Rev. Wendell Rogers prayed during the rally's invocation. "Some believe that it's over, but we believe that it's really just starting."
After a brief introduction and endorsement by South Carolina State Sen. Katrina Shealy, the former Florida governor spoke for about an hour, outlining his success in education and economic policy during his tenure as the Sunshine State's chief executive, and promising similar results if elected president.
"We can grow our economy at 4 percent per year as far as the eye can see," Bush declared. "Only America could do that."
Bush spoke very little about his fellow candidates, with the exception of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Bush took pot shots at her evaluation of the Veterans Administration, and Bush promised administrative changes to the embattled agency if he took office.
When he did speak about his fellow Republican candidates, he did so without naming names, and only spent a few minutes dissecting Donald Trump's proposed immigration policy.
"There are people who suggest we should just deport everybody and we could do it in two years," Bush said, throwing up his hands as he spoke. "That is a half a million people a month. That's not possible."
The crowd, which only filled about three quarters of the seats in the VFW hall, applauded Bush frequently, and praised his leadership. But one voter in the crowd, Brian Bass, says he's not sure how Bush can close a seemingly increasing gap.
"When you think of Donald Trump, you think about success and money and jobs." Bass said, "That's what Americans want."
After the rally, Bass approached Bush and asked the son and brother of two US presidents how he'll narrow that margin.
"By holding town hall events like these," Bush told him before turning to address a row of news cameras, "And doing it in front of these cameras."
Bush, who at one point led the pack of over a dozen GOP presidential candidates in both opinion polls and fundraising. According to a recently released Clemson Palmetto Poll, Bush is ranked fifth among GOP candidates in the state, behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
According to Federal Election Commission data, though, Bush is still a donation juggernaut in the race with a total of $24.8 million in recorded donations.
His PAC, Right to Rise, along with his campaign have also flooded South Carolina airwaves, spending $850,000 between collectively on advertisements for January and February leading up to the First in the South Primary.
The presidential primary is scheduled for Feb. 20.
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