The former Florida governor, who has struggled to stand out in televised debates and whose campaign for president has cut costs, headlined events in South Carolina and New Hampshire on Tuesday with a renewed sense of urgency.
“A president can’t say ‘you’re fired’ and go to commercial break,” Bush told more than 100 people at a senior center in Raymond, New Hampshire. “A president has to roll up their damn sleeves and get to work.”
The jab was aimed at billionaire reality-television star Donald Trump, who rates higher than Bush in polls.
Bush, who has sunk to single digits in early-voting state polls, is spending more concentrated time this month in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the first three states to hold nominating contests next year.
The revised approach is a pivot from what aides had said was Bush’s readiness for the long haul into next year’s state-by-state campaign for the nomination.
Bush continues his travels in New Hampshire on Wednesday and Thursday in a blue tour bus with “Jeb Can Fix It” plastered on its side. The new campaign slogan comes as Bush is also working to fix his political fortunes.
Backed by a political action committee that raised more than $100 million in the first half of the year, Bush was viewed early in the year as a likely front-runner, who is now fighting to emerge as the mainstream Republican standard-bearer.
Outsiders Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson lead in national polls. Bush has recently taken aim at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been credited with steady debate performances and attracts similar segments of the GOP as Bush.
During a Republican debate in Colorado last week, Bush criticized Rubio for missing Senate action as he campaigns for president. Bush joked that the Senate’s schedule was hardly demanding by suggesting it was akin to “a French work week.”
Traveling with reporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Bush joked that comparing the French to Congress was really unfair to the French. “I really did a disservice to the French,” he said, according to multiple press reports.