Jeb Bush misspoke again. The former Florida governor and 2016 presidential candidate is currently under scrutiny for his comments regarding women’s health.
At a recent appearance at the Southern Baptist convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Bush questioned whether the government should spend as much as it currently does on women’s health services like Planned Parenthood.
“I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues, but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine community health organizations that exist to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues,” Bush said.
That statement was heavily criticized by Bush’s Democratic opponents. According to Politico, Hillary Clinton tweeted, “You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong” at Bush just a few hours after his appearance in Nashville. Democrats, and especially Clinton, used Bush’s statement as a way to show voters how he’s out of touch with the needs of American women.
Succumbing to the pressure of that criticism, Bush issued an apologetic follow-up statement. He claimed he “misspoke” and didn’t intend to dismiss women’s health services overall. He simply intended to emphasize community health centers over federal funding.
According to The Hill, Bush also described the $500 million Planned Parenthood receives from federal funds as “hard-to-fathom.” Bush’s comments were directed exclusively towards Planned Parenthood.
The organization has been at the center of political debate since videos surfaced online of its leading members apparently discussing the sale of fetal body parts. Many candidates have been joining the movement to remove its federal funding.
Taken out of context, Bush’s statement makes him seem like he doesn’t care about women’s health. In reality, he’s just making the standard anti-abortion, limited-government argument all Republican candidates have been making since the Planned Parenthood scandal began.
Bush has even reminded voters he revoked state funding for the organization during his time in office in Florida. Bush’s concession that he “misspoke,” establishes a trend. The candidate also backtracked on his statements regarding the Iraq War earlier this year, aligning himself with his brother’s policies then quickly distancing himself from them.
He also “misspoke” when he accidentally claimed he was running for president before his campaign had officially launched. These mistakes haven't been too terrible yet, but honesty and strong convictions are shaping up to be the most important qualities for 2016 presidential hopefuls.
Clinton is slipping in the polls, mostly because voters are growing increasingly less trustworthy of her. Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders' matter-of-fact way of speaking is gaining support around the country. On the other end of the political spectrum, Donald Trump’s refusal to admit that he’s ever “misspoke” is causing him to surge in the polls.
Bush’s statement regarding women’s health was a small misstep, and the backlash likely won’t affect his campaign much. Still, Bush needs to be more careful with his opinions moving forward if he wants to maintain the trust of voters.