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National Politics

Jeb Bush: Romney can connect with Americans

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 01:16 AM

President Barack Obama's lead over Mitt Romney in polls over who connects better with the average American is only temporary because of the negative tone of the Democratic campaign, Jeb Bush said in an interview that aired Sunday.

The former Florida governor, whose brother and father both served as presidents, concedes that Obama has an advantage right now by appearing to care more about average people.

But he said as Obama is "constantly attacking, constantly using negative messaging, I think his connectivity with people will drop."

He told NBC's "Meet the Press" that Romney has a chance at the upcoming Republican National Convention to reconnect with Americans and "show who he is, what's in his heart."

"The acceptance speech is a great place to start. And when he does that I think those numbers will get better," said Bush, who has been scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention. Bush said he plans to talk about education, a special interest of his.

Bush said recent debates over issues like abortion and Medicare remind that: "Republicans really need to be disciplined to stay focused on sustained economic growth (as) our objective and here's how we're going to do it, and here's why the president's failed."

And he cautioned that Republicans need to explain fully what they plan to do about Medicare.

"You can't just say, 'I'm for Medicare reform and leave it at that,' because then the attack machine on the other side says 'you're throwing granny off the cliff with - in a wheelchair,'" said Bush, who grappled with the issue in his unsuccessful 1994 run for governor against Democrat Lawton Chiles.

Bush added: "You have to explain that the Romney plan does not change anything for anybody that is 55 years old and older."

The former Florida governor, whose wife Columba is Mexican-born, acknowledged his party has work to do in gaining support from Hispanic voters.

"Gov. Romney can make inroads if he focuses on how do we create a climate of job creation and economic growth," Bush said of the Hispanic vote. "And that's what I think this fall campaign's going to be about for their campaign. And I think people will move back toward the Republican side.

"But we've got to have a better tone going forward over the long haul for sure," he said. "You can't ask people to join your cause and then send a signal that 'you're really not wanted.' It just doesn't work."

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