Jeb Bush expects ‘elbows and knees’ in GOP primaries

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday he expects the Republican presidential primaries will be rough-and-tumble as the big field of candidates slugs it out for the party’s nomination.
“It’s a rambunctious deal,” Bush said at a cattle call of GOP candidates in Orlando. “We have, what, 75 people running? I didn’t check to see how many people said they’re running today. It’s a big field and will be competitive. There will be some elbows and knees under the board. This isn’t tiddly-winks.”
“At the same time, there’s the realization that we have to win, and hopefully that will override everything else.”
{mosads}Bush said every GOP candidate running for president “is more qualified and would have been a better president than either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.”
He vowed not to get dragged into the fighting pit with other Republicans during the primaries, saying he’d present his record and his vision for the country and allow those things to speak on his behalf.
“If I run, if I’m a candidate for president — and that decision is coming real soon — my intention is to run on my record, my ideas, and to run to win the presidency, not just to make a point or to have my voice heard,” Bush said. 
“The motivation for every candidate is different. Mine is to win, and the only way to win in a two-person race is to get to 50 percent. You don’t get there by tearing down the other 30 or 40 percent.”
Bush and a handful of other Republican presidential hopefuls spoke Tuesday at an economic summit hosted by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. 
Bush largely stuck to his stump speech and ticked through his accomplishments as governor, saying Florida created 1.3 million new jobs under his watch and that he cut taxes by $19 billion, boosted the state’s bond-rating from double to triple-A, increased the state’s reserves from $1 billion to $10 billion and reduced the size of the government workforce by 11 percent.
However, there were moments where Bush went off-script with colorful remarks in front of the small crowd.
Bush said the federal government was strangling the states with regulations, and needed to get out of the way “to allow 50 flowers to bloom.”
“I was going to say 1,000 but I’m not a Maoist,” Bush quipped.
“We need to shrink the beast,” he added, saying the federal government needed to catch up with rest of society and move its operations “into the cloud.”
Bush saved his most passionate remarks for the question-and-answer session after his speech, when he addressed the ongoing debate in Congress over whether to reauthorize key portions of the Patriot Act.
Key parts of the Patriot Act expired Monday after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) moved to block them.

Paul has argued that the National Security Agency’s meta-data collection authorized under the law is a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

But Bush has emerged as one of the biggest defenders of the practice, arguing it’s a necessary tool to prevent terrorist attacks.
“It’s deeply disturbing to me that we’d give up the safeguards that have kept us safe,” Bush said. “We’re safer today because of the Patriot Act. There are a few on the left and some on our team saying that it violates civil liberties. That’s not true. You can say it all you want, but it’s not true.”
“The minute [there’s an attack], the same people saying civil liberties have been violated are going to be asking why didn’t you keep us safe,” Bush fumed. “I’m upset about this.”
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