By Steve Holland
PELLA, Iowa (Reuters) - Facing an uphill battle in Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Wednesday urged conservatives to accept his more welcoming position on immigration as a way to increase their chances of winning the White House in 2016.
Iowa Republicans so far are leaning toward the conservative Republican governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, as their choice when the state holds the first nominating contest next Feb. 1.
Recent polls put Bush farther back in the pack, and one problem he has is his support for granting legal status for illegal immigrants.
Conservatives like Iowa Republican Representative Steve King call this amnesty. Bush's challenge is to convince conservatives that it is the right way to go.
He says immigrants will help power the U.S. economy to the type of higher growth of 4 percent a year that he envisions under a Bush presidency. He said he wants to "fix a broken immigration system that is a drain into a catalytic converter for higher growth."
Bush, whose event announcing his candidacy on Monday in Miami had a Latin flavor, said expanding the appeal of the Republican Party to include more people is essential to victory in November 2016.
"In order to win in a two-person race, you've got to get 50 percent," Bush told a town-hall event in Pella. "You have to bring people along. You have to have a message that brings people back to the conservative cause. You have to go campaign in places where they haven’t seen a Republican in a long, long time."
Bush is also weighed down in some Republican corners by the fact that he would be a third president from the same family after his father and brother.
Bush said he does not feel entitled and knows he would have to earn a victory. He denied his campaign logo, Jeb!, was an attempt to hide from his name.
"I want people to call me by my first name, Jeb. There ain't no way Jeb Bush is going to be able to hide away from the Bush name," he said. "It just ain't going to happen."
In an interview on Wednesday with ABC's "World News Tonight," Bush said it would be hard to distance himself from his brother and father.
"When you love someone as your brother or your dad, it's not easy for me to say, just kinda throw them under the bus to make myself look better. I just can't do it."
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham)