Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush in Newport, N.H., on Jan. 21. Photo by Mary Schwalm/Reuters
The United States needs to restore its relationship with Israel to confront the challenges she faces from terrorist attacks to the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said on Thursday.
“Israel is under attack. We are negotiating with Iran and and tearing asunder our relationship with Israel,” Bush said during a town hall meeting in Hampton, New Hampshire on Thursday. “The Iranian [nuclear] deal has created huge pressure; they see Iran as a real threat. It is. If we are serious, we need to – not just symbolically – be engaged, but get back in the business of showing support to our strongest ally we have in the Middle East.”
Jeb reiterated his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Day One, though acknowledging it may “seem controversial.” He also said he would extend the MOU, if it it is not approved by the time he would take office.
The Republican presidential hopeful also revealed that his brother, former President George W. Bush, “is going to be campaigning at my side.” But he refused to disclose whether that would take place before the New Hampshire primary. “He’s been helpful and he’ll continue to be helpful,” Jeb told reporters after the event, referring to Dubya headlining several fundraisers in the past few months. “He’s popular here (in New Hampshire), he’s popular in Iowa, and he’s the most popular Republican in the country.”
During the town hall meeting, Jeb was asked why he is not using his father and brother more on the trail as he continues to lag in the polls. “My dad and my brother served with distinction, and I love them dearly. I am proud of them, I am not running away from them,” he responded. “[But] I am a 62-year-old man that has a life experience. I know that I am going to have to win this because I am running for president and people have to have confidence that I have the skills to lead. I spend time talking about my family in a loving way. You can’t ignore them because that is weird, and you can’t over-align on them either. There’s a balance, and my brother has been a great help to me.”
A New York Times report on Thursday indicated that George W. could start publicly campaigning for his brother ahead of the South Carolina primary due on February 20.
The former president has become the most popular figure in the Republican Party, especially among Jewish and pro-Israel donors. In a recent interview with Jewish Insider, Jeb said that his brother’s legacy would guide him on issues like the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and as it relates to forging a stronger and warm relationship with Israel’s elected leaders.
Acknowledging the expectations are higher on him running as the 3rd Bush to become president of the United States, Jeb stressed, “If you can’t get through the primary the right way, how are you going to be dealing with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin? How do you deal with the Shia? How are you going to deal with ISIS? .. Campaigns are about showing your mettle. And guess what? I am going up in the polls. You know why? Because I am working my — you know what — off.”