The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Strangest Moments of Jeb and Barbara Bush’s Derry Town Hall

Derry, N.H. — “I really didn’t plan on this,” Barbara Bush said, introducing her son Jeb Bush to the crowd gathered for a town hall at a middle school here.

It was the first time the matriarch of the Bush family has hit the trail with her son since he announced his presidential bid, and her appearance — played in by the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann” — comes as he is looking to reverse his fading fortunes and score a win in New Hampshire.

“Jeb is the nicest, wisest, most caring, loyal, disciplined, that’s good. Not by me. But he’s not a bragger, we don’t allow that, but he’s decent and honest. He’s everything we need in a president.”

Barbara Bush’s introduction kicked off an hour and a half in which Bush fully embraced the family name. “I’m part of the establishment because I’m Barbara Bush’s son. I embrace that each and every day. I’m proud of my dad, I’m proud of my brother, I’m proud of being a Bush.”

But it was also an hour and a half rife with some of the stranger and funnier remarks I’ve heard at a town hall. Below, the most entertaining moments of Jeb’s appearance in Derry:

  • “She’s not as great as everyone thinks she is,” Bush joked of his mom, who was evidently a major draw for attendees. “I jokingly say that when we were growing up in Midland, in Houston, that mom was fortunate not to have a child-abuse hotline available ’cause the discipline of learning right and wrong was her doing.” According to the Bush embeds, this is a regular part of Bush’s remarks.
  • “This year, the New Hampshire primary coincides with the Chinese New Year,” a man in the audience informed Bush. Apparently, this was a necessary precursor to asking a question about Bush’s foreign policy as it relates to China.
  • The next question only got better. “Our moose numbers are down about 50 percent this year,” a man began. The question, which was about global warming, concluded with the man handing Jeb a small stuffed-animal moose.
  • At one point, the smell of cigarette smoke overwhelmed the cafeteria venue. “Someone’s lighting up in the school,” Jeb said.
  • “I get home on Sundays and I go shopping and I love to look at all the labeling,” Bush told a woman who asked what he would do to make sure foods were labeled to allow people to avoid genetically modified foods, if they so chose.
  • A man declares, “Of the three candidates I’ve heard tonight . . . ” It’s 8:12 p.m. Welcome to the first-in-the-nation–primary state.
  • Jeb notices the Flower Man, a hippie-looking guy who has attended a number of town halls for various candidates and hands them flowers. “Flower Boy, welcome back,” Jeb tells him. “It’s nice to see you. I missed you. I feel offended that you haven’t come to any of my events lately.”

Most Popular

Film & TV

A Sad Finale

Spoilers Ahead. Look, I share David’s love of Game of Thrones. But I thought the finale was largely a bust, for failings David mostly acknowledges in passing (but does not allow to dampen his ardor). The problems with the finale were largely the problems of this entire season. Characters that had been ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Great Misdirection

The House Democrats are frustrated, very frustrated. They’ve gotten themselves entangled in procedural disputes with the Trump administration that no one particularly cares about and that might be litigated for a very long time. A Washington Post report over the weekend spelled out how stymied Democrats ... Read More
NR Webathon

We’ve Had Bill Barr’s Back

One of the more dismaying features of the national political debate lately is how casually and cynically Attorney General Bill Barr has been smeared. He is routinely compared to Roy Cohn on a cable-TV program that prides itself on assembling the most thoughtful and plugged-in political analysts and ... Read More