Jeb Bush spent much of Tuesday on the defensive over comments he made in a Fox News interview about the Iraq War, while Republicans also questioned his decision to skip the Iowa Straw Poll in August and instead attend a competing GOP gathering in Georgia.
“We hope Governor Bush rethinks his decision and realizes that grassroots will only grow in Iowa if he waters them,” said Iowa GOP chairman John Kaufmann, who ripped Bush on Twitter over the decision.
Bush and other GOP hopefuls will also be attending the Red State political gathering in Atlanta, hosted by conservative talk show host Erick Erickson.
The news that Bush would not attend the Iowa Straw Poll came days after speculation that Bush might not expend much energy at all in Iowa, and instead look to New Hampshire.
As for Iowa, while Bush remains at the top in national polls, he has struggled in the Hawkeye State; a Quinnipiac poll from last week had him in seventh place, with just 5 percent support.
Bush was the top choice in a bad way for one question – which candidate would you not support – Bush “won” that with 25 percent.
Bush took to talk radio on Tuesday afternoon to make the case that his record was more than enough for Republicans.
“Every year I cut taxes as Governor, every year I cut the government workforce,” Bush said in an appearance on the Sean Hannity radio show, as Bush eagerly defended his record, arguing there should be no debate about his conservative bona fides.
But Bush still faces questions from many within the grass roots, worried by his views on Common Core and immigration reform.
Meanwhile, Bush also used his appearance with Hannity to try to smooth over an answer he had given earlier in the week on Fox News about the Iraq war – Bush said he interpreted the question of Megyn Kelley wrong.
“I was talking about, given what people knew then,” Bush explained, saying back then he would have given the green light to attack Iraq.
But in 20-20 hindsight, the answer now was different.
“Knowing what we know now, clearly there were mistakes,” Bush said to Hannity.
Other GOP hopefuls though weren’t cutting Bush any slack.