Manchester "Blowhard" was the colorful word Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used on Tuesday to blast Donald Trump's proposal to ban the entry of Muslims into the United States.
"It's not about the blowhards out there just saying stuff," Bush declared at a campaign stop in Manchester, New Hampshire. "You've got to find a proper balance of believing in American values and being serious and real about keeping us safe."
After his town hall concluded, questions about Trump's plan completely dominated the interaction between the former Florida governor and the media. "All of this helps his buddy Hillary Clinton for sure," Bush said in response to the first question about Trump.
"He's not going to be the nominee," Bush repeated twice when reporters pressed him if he would support Trump if the billionaire won the primary. "I just don't believe Republicans are going to buy this language that guarantees Hillary Clinton has a far better chance of winning." Like Bush, the former secretary of state was also campaigning in New Hampshire on Wednesday.
After the third time reporters asked about Trump, Bush said with a hint of frustration, "I've just laid out a comprehensive plans to destroy ISIS which would solve this problem, and to deal with the refugee challenges." Trump, he continued, is "playing you guys like a fine Stradivarius violin."
"This campaign should be about the big ideas." Putting on his media critic hat, Bush bemoaned the focus on process over policy, noting that Trump was an "expert" in dominating the news and "phenomenal at garnering attention."
But then questions about Trump continued with reporters asking about Trump's dominance in the polls.
In contrast, an hour earlier at an AARP-sponsored forum in Manchester on Social Security reform, Bush reveled in what he called the "unadulterated policy talk," joking to the audience that he was "like pig in slop."
The candidate would have found some kindred souls in the audience. "He's consistently trying to gain attention by saying alienating statements because he gets your attention very much by doing that," Eileen Brady, an independent from Manchester, said of Trump's proposal.
Another independent voter, Tom Miller of Litchfield reacted, "It's absurd, but it's sensational, and he's playing to the people that are going to vote for him."
According to a newly released CNN/WMUR poll, Bush is in fourth place in New Hampshire at 8 percent with Trump leading at 32 percent.