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Five memorable moments from covering Jeb Bush's campaign


In no particular order:

A New Hampshire woman asked him about the “electromagnetic pulse” — and Jeb Bush knew what it was

The best justification — perhaps the only one — for making presidential candidates campaign first in small states unrepresentative of the rest of the country is that they give attention to voters’ particular issues, no matter how far out they seem. Candidates must be quick on their feet. And Bush showed he was even before he was a formal contender: “Oh, I know about this,” he told a woman who asked about the “electromagnetic pulse,” a theory about a meltdown in the nation’s power grid. Ever the wonk, he had read about it in The Wall Street Journal.

A South Beach waiter and semi-retired drag queen made him a Paleo-friendly burger

Tommy Strangie was called into Burger & Beer Joint on his day off to prepare the special menu item for Bush: a lettuce-wrapped bison burger with chipotle ketchup, sautéed onions and jalapeños (no bun, no cheese) and a side salad of chopped vegetables with balsamic vinaigrette. Strangie, a Hillary Clinton fan, called Bush a “great tipper” — he left 25 percent. Only in Miami.

His aides stuck around after the deadly Charleston shooting

Bush was supposed to be in Charleston three days after launching his candidacy in June, but he was forced to cancel after a gunman killed nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The venue for his town hall became the site for emergency news conferences instead. And Bush’s South Carolina aides, led by Brett Doster, stuck around — because they had to undo their setup, but also to hand out refreshments they had already paid for to police officers, city leaders and reporters. It was a kind gesture on a day when politics suddenly didn’t seem so important.

He opened up about his daughter’s past drug addiction

As Florida governor, Bush chided reporters for asking about his daughter, Noelle, and her prescription-drug addiction. So it was surprising when he finally talked about it, candidly and emotionally, as a presidential candidate. It may have been politically savvy campaigning in New Hampshire, home to a heroin epidemic. But Bush appeared genuinely emotional — and resistant to show it. “She went through hell,” he said of Noelle, who is now drug-free.

He made an Iowa woman cry

Reporters interview so many voters at campaign events that most don’t ever make stories. Like Julie Streck Suhr, a 51-year-old accountant in Sioux City, Iowa, who had been leaning toward Bush before going to see him in person. Before the event, she said she was worried about his low poll numbers: “I don’t think he’s doing so well here,” she lamented. Then she listened to Bush talk about his “servant’s heart” — a corny line often mocked by reporters — and about caring for people with disabilities. Suhr didn’t ask a single question, or try to pose with Bush for a selfie. But when she clapped for him when he was done, she had tears in her eyes and had trouble getting words out.

“Everybody else talks about themselves,” she said. “He definitely does talk with his heart.”