Jeb Bush’s son asks Michigan backers for campaign help

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — The son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush asked Michigan supporters Wednesday to travel to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada this month to help his father’s presidential campaign after a sixth-place finish in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

“I also want to assure everyone on the call that Iowa is an aberration,” George Prescott Bush said in a conference call with Bush supporters in Michigan.

Bush, the Texas land commissioner, and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette noted recent Iowa caucus winners have failed to win the Republican nomination. Jeb Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush, was the last Republican to win the 2000 Iowa caucuses and go onto become the nominee.

Volunteers are needed in New Hampshire this week to energize Granite State voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary, followed by the Feb. 20 South Carolina primary and Feb. 23 GOP caucuses in Nevada, Bush said.

“It’s go time and this is where the race is won,” George P. Bush told his father’s supporters during the call.

A Detroit News reporter obtained the conference call information and dialed in to listen to remarks by Bush, Schuette and state Rep. Andrea LaFontaine, a Jeb Bush supporter from St. Clair County. The Bush campaign took questions from supporters.

Theresa Mungiloi, chairwoman of the Oakland County Republican Party, participated in the call and said Jeb Bush would be the keynote speaker at the party’s March 7 Lincoln Day dinner in Troy — one day before Michigan’s primary.

George P. Bush described the need for volunteers on the ground in early battleground primaries as “the immediate marching orders.”

“It’s all hands on deck in New Hampshire,” said Schuette, who spent Sunday and Monday in eastern Iowa helping the Bush campaign.

In New Hampshire, Bush’s average polling numbers are 9.8 percent, placing him technically in fifth place but statistically tied for second with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, according to RealClearPolitics.com.

Billionaire Donald Trump leads in average statewide polls in New Hampshire at 33 percent, despite his second-place finish to Cruz in the Iowa caucuses.

In South Carolina, Bush is polling in fourth behind Rubio, Cruz and Trump.

“It think it’s best to ignore it, the polling, and just focus on the ground game,” George P. Bush said on the call.

In arguing that Bush has a superior national campaign, Schuette noted the past two winners of the Iowa caucuses — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — did not have the nationwide organization to win the GOP nomination in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

“We didn’t go to the inauguration of a President Huckabee or President Santorum,” Schuette said on the day Santorum dropped out of the race and endorsed Rubio. “This is all about New Hampshire ... and the successive states.”

clivengood@detroitnews.com

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