During his first telephone town hall meeting with New Hampshire primary voters, presidential candidate Jeb Bush laid out an extensive vision for both home and abroad if elected president.
In a 45-minute conference call on Tuesday, the former Florida governor discussed domestic and foreign policy, including repealing the Affordable Care Act, Medicare reform, increasing the retirement age, and pressuring Middle East allies in the fight against Islamic terrorism.
Bush also told the audience he wants a “veto-proof majority” in Congress to scrap President Barack Obama’s new Iranian nuclear deal.
As reported by John DiStaso of WMUR 9 TV, Bush took eight questions in the meeting – mostly on foreign and domestic policy. He also said he was a “devout Catholic” who would not allow faith to “inform” his job as president.
“I’m a Christian,” Bush said, “and it is something I don’t put in a lock box in public life … faith matters and we should not push people of faith outside the mainstream.”
Bush also pointed to “religious persecution as never before in the Middle East and some African nations … Radical Islam is challenging the ability of Christians who have had millennia of engagement in the Middle East to continue to exist.”
“They are now being obliterated,” he added.
In domestic matters, DiStaso writes that Bush emphasized his eight years as Florida governor, giving him the experience to help reach an ambitious goal of 4 percent annual economic growth.
Bush’s approach would be three-pronged: immigration reform, reducing the federal workforce and spending cuts.
While governor, Bush said he cut taxes by $19 billion and reduced the number of state workers by 13,000. During that time, he claimed Florida “created more businesses than any other state.”
DiStaso also noted that Bush said the only way to grow economically is by engaging with the rest of the world.
“We lead from behind now,” Bush told listeners. “We talk about red lines in the sand. We create instability.”
As for foreign affairs, Bush called the Islamic state “a creation of a void that we created when we left Iraq.” If president, he would call for arming the Kurds and “rebuilding the alliance that created the successful surge in Iraq.” His strategy would include winning the support of Sunni tribal leaders and increasing U.S. air support “with certainty” to defeat ISIS and other terrorist groups.
The United States must also redevelop a “take-it-to-the-bank” relationship with Israel, he added.
Directly criticizing the Obama administration, Bush argued that it is “hard to image how you could rupture the relationship between the United States and Israel the way this president has done.”