Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told a New Hampshire questioner that his stance on undocumented immigrants has become “politically incorrect,” thanks to presidential rival Donald Trump’s efforts to make any form of amnesty taboo in the GOP primary.
Bush, who began the 2016 presidential election cycle as the presumptive GOP frontrunner, has become an underdog who must have a strong showing in the New Hampshire caucus to turn the media narrative around on his flailing campaign.
Things went south for the Florida governor after Trump entered the GOP race in the summer of 2015, the business mogul amassing support by promising to deport undocumented immigrants en masse.
The popularity of Trump’s uncompromising stance instantly derailed Bush’s campaign platform, which presented a compassionate approach to immigration reform.
“I’m for a path to legalized status… where they earn legal status,” Bush told CBS in May 2015. “They don’t earn citizenship. They don’t cut in line with people that have been patiently waiting on the outside.”
Bush characterized undocumented immigrants’ desire to live in the U.S. to provide a better future for their families as “an act of love.”
On Feb. 7, a New Hampshire voter told Bush that they took issue with his “act of love” description, asking the former governor if his “slow start” in the race was due to his “politically correct” rhetoric on the undocumented, The Daily Beast reports.
“That’s not politically correct,” Bush answered, cutting the questioner off. “You don’t think that 99 percent of the people who come to this country are just trying to put food on the table for their families?”
The questioner responded by asking Bush “do you believe in the rule of law —“
“Yeah, I do,” Bush answered, cutting off the questioner again. “They’re coming here because they want to put food on the table for their families, and if you think that’s politically correct you haven’t been following my life. That’s totally politically incorrect now!”
Since Trump stirred up anti-immigrant fervor in the GOP, Bush said that he is now in the minority opinion.
“The fact that I would say something that’s totally obvious to people who know anything about the immigrant experience but incurs the wrath of people who are angry about this is politically incorrect.”