GREENSBORO, N.C. – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday getting the country back on track requires Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's ouster from the top spot "at minimum."
Speaking at a warehouse event for Thom Tillis, the GOP's nominee for Senate, Bush pinned the country's hopes for an economic recovery on Republicans taking control of the Senate.
"Most of the big things that need to be fixed are in Washington, D.C., and if we get them right — which will require Harry Reid's departure from the Senate, or, at minimum, being minority leader — people's fears about the future will be lifted, their belief in their children's opportunities will come back naturally," Bush said.
Tillis is challenging Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, in one of the country's most competitive Senate races. Republicans need to gain six seats in November to take control of the Senate, and North Carolina, a state that typically favors the GOP, is seen as a prime pick-up opportunity.
Bush and Tillis spoke at a podium in the middle of a warehouse owned by Illuminating Technologies, a small business and a member of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, which endorsed Tillis at the event. Aides had set up a makeshift campaign rally scene, with Tillis signs affixed to stacks of boxes.
Bush did not once mention Tillis' opponent, but he repeatedly knocked the leader of her party in the Senate.
"The minute anybody has a good idea in the House or in the Senate, it goes into Harry Reid's desk drawer," Bush said. "No ideas are debated any more in the United States Senate."
Tillis and Bush dressed in matching dark gray suits, white shirts, and red ties with diagonal stripes.
This is the second time this year Bush has come to North Carolina to boost Tillis' campaign. He also campaigned for Tillis during the Republican primary. He brushed off speculation that his travels had anything to do with presidential ambitions, saying he campaigned for candidates when he was governor and afterward.
"I guess because of the speculation — no one really cared back then — and now it’s a bigger deal," he said. "I can’t answer that why it’s a bigger deal."
He said it was important for Republicans to take control of the Senate to ensure a budget got passed.
"We’ve had five straight years without a budget being passed," Bush said. "How can you operate without having a regular order way of building a consensus and reweaving kind of the web of civility that’s necessary to begin to solve problems?"
"I believe the Republican leadership in Washington will start that," he said. "It may force the president to do his job as well. But that may require too much hope for anybody in this room to believe."
The race is rated Tilts Democratic by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
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