DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Jeb Bush has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past year, from well-connected Republican establishment favorite for the 2016 presidential nomination to nearly a bit player, fighting for political survival. A look at 62-year-old son and brother of former presidents:
Expectations were high when the second son of George H.W. Bush and brother of George W. Bush got in the race in June. By then, he'd formed a group with longtime adviser Mike Murphy, which raised more than $100 million in the first six months of the year. The plan: The group would advertise and run voter outreach apart from the campaign, while Bush's official candidate organization would be a leaner operation.
As groundbreaking as the plan was, Bush failed to carry on as the presumed Republican favorite, in part due to underwhelming debate performances but also because of the rise of outsider Donald Trump. His fortunes have improved somewhat in New Hampshire, where he has poured most of his campaign's energy, and a strong finish there is considered crucial for him.
Bush campaigns heavily on his eight years as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, and his conservative record there. He overhauled the state's education system, signing into law Florida's first charter school and school choice programs, allowing families to use state tax dollars to pay for private school.
Bush also discusses his record of presiding over the fallout and recovery from a series of hurricanes and tropical storms. The experience, he says, informs his views of military and national security preparedness.
With more than 30 years in private business before entering politics, he also speaks about a varied background that prepares him for the presidency.
Bush speaks most often about overhauling U.S. immigration policy and increasing military spending and equipment.
He's faced criticism for supporting an immigration policy that would allow thousands of people in the United States illegally to remain, so long as they pay fines and owed taxes, learn English, receive no government assistance and commit no crimes. His statement that many people who come to the U.S. illegally do so as an "act of love" by families seeking to stay together drew little support from other Republican presidential candidates. Bush opposes allowing people who are in the country illegally to get citizenship, though he does support permanent legal status under certain conditions.
Bush takes credit for being the first in the GOP field to lay out a military policy toward fighting the Islamic State group. He would embed more U.S. forces with Iraqi and Syrian rebel fighters, impose a U.S.-led no-fly zone in the region and push for a dramatic and expensive military modernization.
Bush's debate performances have been a disappointment to many. Despite positive receptions at dozens of town hall-style meetings in New Hampshire, he has struggled to stand out.
MOMENT TO REMEMBER
After taking repeated jabs from Trump, a frustrated Bush declared in New Hampshire: "I've got to get this off my chest: Donald Trump is a jerk." It was an unprompted comment, followed by a slam on Trump for insulting women, Hispanics and people with disabilities. Weeks later, a New Hampshire man asked Bush why he had said it. After Bush politely acknowledged Trump's business success, he pointed specifically at Trump's mockery of a New York Times reporter with a physical disability, saying that "sets me off."
Back in July, it took him five days to deliver a clear answer when pressed about whether Iraq should have been invaded, a question that goes to his brother's judgment as president. He finally said he would not have supported the invasion, knowing that Iraq would later be found to have had no banned weapons of mass destruction.