The Note: What Jeb Bush Said and What He Meant

ByABC News
July 9, 2015, 9:26 AM


--WHAT HE SAID: Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said yesterday that in order to grow the economy "people should work longer hours" -- a comment that the Bush campaign argues was a reference to underemployed part-time workers but which Democrats are using to attack him. During an interview that was live-streamed on the app Periscope, Bush told New Hampshire's The Union Leader that to grow the economy, "people should work longer hours." He was answering a question about his plans for tax reform and responded: "My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in."

--IN A STATEMENT, A BUSH AIDE CLARIFIED THAT HE WAS REFERRING TO THE UNDEREMPLOYED AND PART-TIME WORKERS: "Under President Obama, we have the lowest workforce participation rate since 1977, and too many Americans are falling behind. Only Washington Democrats could be out-of-touch enough to criticize giving more Americans the ability to work, earn a paycheck, and make ends meet."

--CRUZ WEIGHS IN: From Ted Cruz campaign spokesman Rick Tyler: "It would seem to me that Gov. Bush would want to avoid the kind of comments that led voters to believe that Governor Romney was out of touch with the economic struggles many Americans are facing. The problem is not that Americans aren't working hard enough. It is that the Washington cartel of career politicians, special interests and lobbyists have rigged the game against them."

--ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: Jeb Bush's comments read like a classic gaffe -- a wealthy candidate with a famous name dispensing advice that "people need to work longer hours." But in their context and later clarification, it's clear that Bush was making a very serious point about a very real issue: underemployment. That makes this episode an early test of Bush's strength in the Republican field, as well as a challenge to his rivals who would consider pouncing on the moment. Would they want to attack Bush when they agree - and in fact are largely building their entire campaigns - around his broader point about an Obama economy that has left too many working too few hours? Save for Ted Cruz, whose campaign linked Bush's remarks to out-of-touch utterings of Mitt Romney, they've been largely silent over the past news cycle, ceding that ground to a willing Hillary Clinton campaign. Cue the Twitter war. Hillary Clinton: "Anyone who believes Americans aren't working hard enough hasn't met enough American workers." Jeb Bush: "Anyone who discounts 6.5 million people stuck in part-time work & seeking full-time jobs hasn't listened to working Americans."

TODAY ON THE TRAIL with ABC's CHRIS GOOD. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton will appear onstage together for the graduation of the inaugural class of the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a partnership between the W. Bush, H.W. Bush, Clinton, and Lyndon Johnson presidential libraries/centers. This will happen at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas at 6 pm ET. Marco Rubio will be in Iowa, where he'll hold a meet-and-greet coffee at the Scott County GOP office in Davenport at 8:30 am ET. Martin O'Malley will be in New Hampshire, where he'll hold a meet-and-greet with Carroll County Democrats at Downtown Cafe in Wolfeboro at 8:30 am ET. Jeb Bush will hold a closed-press fundraiser in Kennebunkport, Maine. Chris Christie will leave New Jersey to attend a retreat in Sun Valley, Idaho "colloquially known as the 'billionaire's summer camp,'" per Bernie Sanders will appear at George Mason's Arlington campus between 7 pm ET and 9 pm ET for a Progressive Caucus event. Carly Fiorina attends a house part hosted by the Nashua Republican Cite Committee in Nashua, N.H., at 6:20 pm ET.


CAMPAIGN MYSTERY -- SUPER PAC EMERGES WITH DONALD TRUMP'S 'MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN' SLOGAN. A new fundraising group -- boasting Donald Trump's campaign slogan -- got up and running last week. There's just one question: what's it doing for Trump? The "Make America Great Again" Super PAC, which echoes the mogul's campaign motto, filed start-up paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last week. But it's not clear if it is connected to Trump, ABC's RYAN STRUYK reports. The group's treasurer and lawyer -- the only two people named on the FEC paperwork -- did not respond to requests for comment by ABC News. The address listed for the organization on 51st Street in Manhattan is shared by a UPS Store. Multiple calls to a phone number listed on the group's website went straight to a voicemail box and a message to a generic "info" e-mail address went unreturned. And Trump's campaign didn't offer much information about the new fundraising group. "Given Mr. Trump's top-tier status in recent polls, it is not surprising that someone has put together a Super PAC to support Donald J. Trump for President," a campaign rep told ABC News. "We hope that they will invite us to attend some of their events."

WHY JIMMY CARTER THINKS BERNIE SANDERS ISN'T REALLY A THREAT TO HILLARY CLINTON. Former President Jimmy Carter said he still sees Hillary Clinton as "inevitably" becoming the standard bearer for her party in 2016, despite Independent Bernie Sanders' recent surge in popularity as he seeks the Democratic nomination, ABC's BEN BELL notes. "From what I can tell as a completely almost disinterested observer from south Georgia -- who's not involved in politics anymore -- there won't be any problem with Hillary getting the nomination because money dominates and she has an inside track to the massive amounts that are going to pour into the Democratic party side," Carter told ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS. Still, Carter said he suspected that Clinton -- or at least her team -- is concerned with the so-called "Bernie-mentum."

FLASHBACK: ANOTHER TIME THE CLINTONS DRAGGED THE PRESS BEHIND A ROPE. It looks like last weekend wasn't the first time the Clintons have had the press at the end of their rope. A video - unearthed and circulated by the Republican National Committee (and making a splash on social media) - shows reporters being dragged along behind a rope line in a parade featuring Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, according to ABC's RYAN STRUYK. But it wasn't from last Saturday, when Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign used the tactic with reporters covering her marching in New Hampshire. It comes from former President Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign. The footage shows reporters and photographers scurrying backward while getting dragged by Clinton aides holding a rope. One reporter is pushed aside by a Secret Service agent. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton smiles and waves to the crowd, while Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea walk at his side.


GEORGE W. BUSH CHARGED $100,000 TO US VETERANS CHARITY. Former President George W. Bush charged $100,000 to speak at a charity fundraiser for U.S. military veterans severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and former First Lady Laura Bush collected $50,000 to appear a year earlier, officials of the Texas-based Helping a Hero charity confirmed to ABC News. The former President was also provided with a private jet to travel to Houston at a cost of $20,000, the officials said. The charity, which helps to provide specially-adapted homes for veterans who lost limbs and suffered other severe injuries in "the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan," said the total $170,000 expenditure was justified because the former President and First Lady offered discounted fees and helped raise record amounts in contributions at galas held in 2011 and 2012. One of the wounded vets who served on the charity's board told ABC News he was outraged that his former commander in chief would charge any fee to speak on behalf of men and women he ordered into harm's way, ABC's MEGAN CHUCHMACH and BRIAN ROSS report.


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