Jeb Bush lobbed attacks at both President Obama and Congressional Republicans in an appearance in Dover, N.H.
“Pass a budget for crying out loud,” the Republican former governor of Florida said, slamming members of his own party. “Let the process work again. That’s what’s missing.”
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd at a party in the home of Fergus Cullen, the former chairman of the New Hampshire GOP, Bush signaled his displeasure with the February battle over Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding that nearly led to a shutdown of the agency.
“There’s a time for making a principled opposition to the president, and there’s a time to lead,” he said. 
The February fight was over the president’s executive actions on immigration — actions Bush noted he believes will eventually be ruled unconstitutional. The Republican slammed Obama on multiple fronts, criticizing his policies on global affairs, the deficit and health care.
Bush said he would “repeal and replace” Obamacare, calling it “flawed to the core.” He pressed for a health plan that focuses more on preventative care.
Bush expressed his displeasure with the administration’s approach to debt with an unusual metaphor: “It’s kind of like passing the bottle of bourbon, giving the keys to the Maserati to a 14 year old, telling him to have a good time.”
On foreign policy, Bush hit Obama’s approach as “one of retrenchment, one of disengagement.” He said the president has not made it clear to allies that the U.S. has their back, and he hasn’t made the country’s enemies fear us.
He took a more veiled shot at Congress when answering a question about Veterans Affairs, calling VA reform “one of the few bills that actually turned into a law in the last four, five years.”
Bush passionately defended his economic record in Florida, arguing he took on entrenched interests in the state and cut through red tape to help residents of the Sunshine State.
He also stood firm in his support of Common Core education standards, and clarified what he saw as misconceptions about the controversial system. “Government should have nothing to do with curriculum, directly or indirectly,” he said to applause.
Bush decried fellow conservatives for being overly negative. “You can be a conservative. You can do it with joy in your heart,” he said. “You don’t have to be angry about it.”
Bush called for Republicans to run “not with a divisive message but one that is unifying.”
Appearing earnest and at ease, Bush drew laughter and applause throughout his appearance. Before he spoke, Bush mingled with the crowd, posing for selfies and making small-talk with attendees.
Bush’s speech comes during his first appearance in New Hampshire since 2000, when he hit the trail for his older brother, eventual President George W. Bush. He’s currently a close second behind Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in a Real Clear Politics analysis of recent polling.
Walker, Bush’s main foe, is also in the Granite State to woo potential voters in the early primary state. The Wisconsin governor said he considers Bush a “good man,” but still needled him in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times published Friday.
"We had Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney,” Walker said in the interview, which took place in Manchester, N.H.
“If it's just whoever's next up, that hasn't worked so well for the Republican Party in the past.”
Some conservatives have questioned a number of Bush's more moderate stances, including his support for Common Core education standards. During a speech earlier Friday to the Nashua Chamber of Commerce, he stood strong on that stance and refused to back down.
“You don’t abandon your core beliefs, you go try to persuade people, as I’m doing now,” Bush said.
"I think you need to be genuine. I think you need to have a backbone.”
He admitted that the government shouldn’t use federal dollars to convince the states to adopt the education standards, but said that wasn’t an indictment of Common Core.
Ben Kamisar contributed.