Jeb Bush Invokes President Lincoln Amid 'Jeb Can Fix It' Tour
Bush says he's aiming to combat the cynicism that has permeated Washington.
— -- Jeb Bush launched his "Jeb Can Fix It" tour, invoking a U.S. president who he said would have faced the same challenges he faces today.
“If Lincoln were alive today, imagine the foolishness he would have to suffer. Advisers telling him to shave his beard. Cable pundits telling him to lose the top hat,” Bush told an enthusiastic crowd gathered today at the Tampa Garden Club in Florida.
He added that he has gotten advice, too: to ditch his glasses, change ties, prompting laughter and applause from the crowd.
“Some advice is more strategic. Nail that zinger. Be angrier. Hide your inner wonk. But I have learned two important things from my time serving the people of Florida: One, I can’t be someone I’m not. And, two, getting things done isn’t about yelling into a camera, or regurgitating sound bites free of substance,” he said.
The tour and the release of his e-book, “Reply All today,” are all in an effort to jumpstart a campaign that many say has been flailing, after tumbling poll numbers and a widely panned debate performance.
Today, as he returned to the Sunshine state, Bush hopes to relaunch himself, in a sense, positioning himself as a tried-and-true leader.
“Our story is about action. Doing, not just talking. Listening, not just lecturing,” he said in Tampa.
He said that he won’t step into the role of “angry agitator,” and then alluded to GOP rival Donald Trump.
“And you can’t just tell Congress...‘You’re Fired’… and go to a commercial break,” he said.
The former Florida governor, 62, also seemed to allude to his former protégé Marco Rubio, who is running on a platform of reform and whom Bush's campaign has referred to as "a GOP Obama."
"The challenges we face as a nation are too great to roll the dice on another presidential experiment. To trust the rhetoric of reform over a record of reform," Bush said.
In this, he used the same language Bill Clinton used in 2007 when describing then-Sen. Obama. "We`re prepared to roll the dice," Clinton said at the time.
Bush added, also hinting to the other senators in the race, that "the answer isn’t sending someone from one side of the capital city to the other."
But in these remarks, Bush focused mostly on Obama and those in his party who he says speaks in "delusional terms" about containing ISIS and dealing with Russia.
"For all his promise, perhaps President Obama’s greatest accomplishment is that of creating competing pessimisms," Bush said.
He slammed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for saying in her most recent debate that Republicans are her enemy. “Americans have had enough of our president’s many straw man arguments and, of a front-running candidate who blames a vast right wing conspiracy instead of taking personal responsibility, and who declares roughly half the country is her enemy,” Bush said.
His tone and message harken back to an earlier time; a season in which he was the front-runner, with his focus toward the Democrats he hopes to face as the nominee.
"I’m putting The Beltway on notice,” he said. “I’ll turn Washington DC upside down, too.”
He also pledged to stay true to himself, channeling his self-professed optimism, that the race is still his to capture.
“When the dust clears, and the delegates are counted,“ he said, “we will win this campaign."
The embattled GOP presidential candidate began the tour in his home state of Florida, traversing the state with three events in three different cities. He began with remarks in Tampa this morning before he heads to an event near Orlando later today and ends with a town hall in Jacksonville.
He'll head to South Carolina Tuesday and then start a two-two day swing in New Hampshire, where his first bus tour will begin.
ABC News' Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.