Jeb: Brother's response to 9/11 was 'awe-inspiring'
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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says his brother George W. Bush responded in an “awe-inspiring” way to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and suggests he would learn from his sibling's leadership if he wins the presidency. 

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The Republican presidential candidate’s comments, which were made in a staged conversation with his brother at a Bush family donor retreat in Houston on Monday, were another attempt to rebut Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE. The billionaire angered Bush when he suggested recently that George W. Bush was partly to blame for 9/11 because the attacks happened under the former president’s watch. 

Bush's remarks also signal a new willingness by Bush to embrace the political record of his famous family. 

“The case study of leadership is how George responded to 9/11, period, over and out,” Jeb told the audience of some 175 donors and supporters who gathered in a ballroom at a Houston hotel, according to a pool report. 

“And the idea that a candidate could think that they could make political hay to create a new … narrative on the reality on how he led is a joke,” Bush said. 

The staged conversation between the Bush brothers was the highlight of a two-day retreat hosting the candidate’s wealthiest donors. 

Over a number of sessions through Sunday and Monday, Bush operatives and family members, including both former presidents, reassured their most generous financial supporters that the campaign was being corrected after a rough few weeks that saw severe cost-cutting and a continued sagging in the polls. 

The brothers sat onstage in the Houston hotel ballroom, Jeb wearing a navy blazer and no tie and George to his left wearing a brown blazer. Over a half-hour conversation, they reminisced about their childhoods, joked about their mother Barbara's cooking and praised each other’s leadership styles. 

“It’s the unexpected that’s going to try Jeb when he’s the president and I’m absolutely confident that given his background and his steadiness that he’ll be able to deal with the unexpected in a way that Americans will be proud of,” George W. Bush said. 

Since announcing his candidacy in June, the younger Bush has struggled to strike the right balance between distancing himself from his family — “I am my own man” was an early refrain — and leveraging the powerful family connections and donor network that provided Bush with more than $100 million in his super-PAC by midyear, dwarfing his competition. 

Bush ran into early trouble when he was repeatedly asked whether he would have authorized the Iraq invasion if he were president. Many saw his struggle to answer this basic question — he eventually said he would not, given the intelligence failures that are apparent now — as him displaying a natural, though perhaps unhelpful, instinct to defend his brother. 

But Monday’s remarks suggest that Bush has resolved the family question and is now more comfortable explicitly linking himself to his brother and his famous political relatives, perhaps judging that the benefits of doing so outweigh the baggage.  

George W. Bush's popularity has risen in recent times, especially among Republicans, whereas Jeb is polling well below front-runners Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and seems stuck in the single digits in national surveys. 

“How he responded to 9/11," Jeb Bush said of his brother, "was just awe-inspiring.  

“People were united. And people really got it that he had a heart for them,” Bush added. “At that time, as you know, kids were crying. All around people, children and grandchildren didn’t know what was going on. 

“The whole world was turned upside down, and you had a president who was staid and sure and strong.”

The crowd of donors and supporters, which included Bush’s mother, the former first lady Barbara, clapped and cheered.