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Jeb Bush Turns Focus To Hillary Clinton Post Debate


The Republican presidential candidates will not meet again for a debate until the middle of next month. Until then, their plan is to talk directly to voters - no moderators, no commercial breaks. Some of them already got started on that today. Marco Rubio was in Davenport, Iowa, where he repeated his pitch for trade school education.


MARCO RUBIO: At some point in our history, we started telling kids trade school is for the kids that aren't smart enough to go to college. That's a lie. Trade school's for the kids that want a job that pays $50,000 at 19 years of age.

MCEVERS: NPR's political reporters have been out with some of the other candidates, and we'll start with Sarah McCammon, who's traveling with Jeb Bush.

JEB BUSH: How are you? How are you doing?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: At a Hy-Vee grocery store in a suburb of Des Moines, Jeb Bush shook hands an poured coffee for veterans who'd gathered to eat bacon and fresh fruit at an annual breakfast.

BUSH: I hope you have a good Veterans Day.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you. I hope you have a good campaign here.

MCCAMMON: The former Florida governor is trying to have a good campaign, but he's struggled to gain traction in a crowded Republican field. After what was widely seen as a weak performance at the last debate, Bush held his own last night. He told reporters he was a little tired but pleased.


BUSH: I thought it was fine. I did well. I talked about issues that are important to people. We need to start thinking about how - who's the person that can beat Hillary Clinton rather than trying to get into small differences between each campaign.

MCCAMMON: Bush repeated that theme during a speech before a few dozen people gathered at a Coca Cola bottling plant in Atlantic, Iowa. He talked about solving problems as Florid's governor and spoke in a language that seemed calculated to appeal to Iowa's evangelical voters.


BUSH: That's what a servant does. The master may just say, I'm the big dog in the room; just get out of the way; I'll tell you when you talk. But I think you have to first listen to people, and then you learn from their challenges. And then when you learn from their challenges, you have applied the things you know how to do to fix things.

MCCAMMON: That pragmatism appeals to voters like Christal Finck of Truro, Iowa, who met Bush at the breakfast this morning. She says he's a middle-of-the-road Republican who can work across the aisle. Finck hopes Bush can build on last night's debate performance and gain some momentum in the remaining months before the Iowa Caucuses.

CHRISTAL FINCK: November, December and the first part of January, I don't know how he's going to get any sleep. I think people will start making their decisions, and you'll start seeing the field narrow.

MCCAMMON: With less than three months to go before the first-in-the-nation caucuses, expect a lot of candidates to be losing sleep as they criss-cross the state. Sarah McCammon, NPR News, Atlantic, Iowa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah McCammon worked for Iowa Public Radio as Morning Edition Host from January 2010 until December 2013.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.