DOVER, N.H. -- Jeb Bush completed two jam-packed days of campaigning across New Hampshire on Saturday, making this abundantly clear: He’s bringing his A game, and he will campaign for president on his own terms.
The 62-year-old son of one president and brother of another has not had to court Republican primary voters in Florida for more than two decades, let alone in the most wide-open presidential primary in modern history. But after recent appearances in Iowa, before a conference of conservative activists in Washington and this weekend in the Granite State, it’s clear plausible predictions that Bush might prove to be another Fred Thompson, lethargic and half-hearted, are unfounded.
Amid melting snowbanks and wall-to-wall throngs of reporters at stops in New Hampshire, Bush — looking at least 30 pounds trimmer than when he was governor — took pointed questions about his views on immigration and the Common Core education standards without a hint of defensive.
Like an anti-Mitt Romney, he firmly stood behind positions that are toxic to many likely Republican primary voters.
“You don’t abandon your core beliefs. You go persuade people, and that’s what I’m trying to do right now, about why I’m for higher standards,” he told a woman who asked him about his support of the Common Core standards adopted by Florida and more than 40 other states. “I think you need to be genuine. I think you need to have a backbone.”