WASHINGTON: Presidential candidate Jeb Bush unveiled a new slogan, "Jeb Can Fix It," at a long-planned campaign event today in Florida that ended up being a reset to an underwhelming campaign for the Republican nomination.
The campaign, Bush told supporters in his home state, is anchored by principles and accomplishment not style and flash.
"This election is not about a set of personalities. It's about a set of principles," Bush said, in a jab at rival Marco Rubio and a nod to his own flat performance in a debate last week. As the audience at the Tampa Garden Club applauded, he added, "It is about leadership."
Bush's reset comes as establishment Republicans fret over the viability of the two-term former Florida governor who earlier this year seemed the party favorite.
Instead, a populist surge propelled the outsider campaigns of bombastic developer Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and created an opportunity for Rubio, a freshman senator from Florida, to make his appeal to the party establishment.
While the Republican race is wide open, Hillary Rodham Clinton is a heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination.
Voting begins in February.
Surrounded today by friends and former colleagues, Bush's speech in Tampa and new campaign slogan, "Jeb Can Fix It," were designed to suggest that he understands the steeper-than-expected challenge before him and will seek to set his once-vaunted candidacy back on track.
But he's doing it without changing his message or significantly altering his campaign strategy. Bush, the son and brother of former US presidents, recently announced an across-the-board cut in salaries to protect his available campaign cash for the final charge into Iowa.
"But let me be clear: I'm not stepping into the role of 'angry agitator' that they have created for us, because it's not what's in my heart," Bush said, a nod to the frustration Trump has stoked.
Mockingly called "low energy" by Trump, Bush joked about the advice he's received.
"Nail that zinger. Be angrier. Hide your inner wonk," the term for an official motivated by policy as Bush is. "But I've learned two important things serving as your governor. One, I can't be something I'm not. And two, getting something done isn't about yelling into a camera."
Bush has increasingly seen Rubio over recent weeks as his chief rival for the nod among mainstream Republicans, rather than devout social conservatives like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or government outsiders like Carson.