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Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton trade barbs: Are Americans working enough?

Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush responds to a climate change activist who confronted him with questions at the 4th of July Parade in Amherst, New Hampshire.

Kayana Szymczak, Getty Images

Hudson, New Hampshire "People need to work longer hours," former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday -- a remark that, taken out of context, gave Democrats a reason to pounce on the Republican presidential candidate.

Bush, however, pushed back hard against the Democratic criticism, and later Wednesday night he clarified the comments. In the press conference with reporters after a town hall in Hudson, New Hampshire, Bush said that his words had been "taken out of context" and that he was referring to the need for people to have the opportunity for full-time work. "If we're going to grow the economy people need to stop being part-time workers, they need to have access to greater opportunities to work," he said.

Still, late Wednesday evening, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton went after Bush:

The Democratic National Committee also weighed in, describing Bush's comments as "easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we've heard so far this cycle."

The full context of Bush's original comments, which came in an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, were as follows: "My aspiration for the country, and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours."

During his press conference, Bush argued Democrats were missing the point.

"You can take it out of context all you want, but high sustained growth means people work 40 hours rather than 30 hours, and that by our success they have money, disposable income for their families how they want to spend it rather than get in line and be dependent on government."

He later tweeted another response:

Bush and his campaign regularly talk at campaign events and in interviews about his goal for 4 percent economic growth. Some critics have called that goal unrealistic, a charge that the campaign spurns as "defeatist."

At the town hall event at the VFW in Hudson, the former Florida governor spoke to a packed room of veterans and local citizens, addressing a wide range of subjects.

He took a hard stance against so-called "sanctuary cities" like San Francisco. Invoking the murder of 32-year-old Katherine Steinle by a Mexican migrant who had been deported multiple times from the United States, Bush said we, "ought to eliminate sanctuary cities" by depriving them of federal funds for law enforcement.

"This idea that local governments all of a sudden, have decided they're just not going to comply with the federal law, that's not part of the American tradition," he said. "We shouldn't provide law enforcement monies for cities like San Francisco until they change their policies to make sure convicted felons that are illegal immigrants are picked up by ICE rather than released into the community."

Bush also responded to a controversial retweet made from the account of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (and which was quickly deleted). It read "@RobHeilbron: @realDonaldTrump #JebBush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife." Bush described it to the audience as a "weird little controversy" and said that his wife Columba's Mexican heritage didn't affect his stance on the need to control the border.

"You can love the Mexican culture, you can love your Mexican-American wife and also believe that we need to control the border," he said. "This is a bizarre kind of idea that somehow you can have an affection for people in a different country and not think the rule of law can apply. This is ludicrous."

Without directly mentioning Trump, Bush went after the billionare's message.

"And frankly, as a Republican I want to win elections, I want to win so that conservative principles can be applied and allow people to rise up ," he said. "We need to win, we better start figuring out ways to message our beliefs that give people hope, that everybody will be included in the progress."

Hillary Clinton was another target for Bush. He reacted to Clinton's comments in a Tuesday CNN interview where she said that all the Republican presidential candidates were on a "spectrum of hostility" towards immigrants, telling reporters, "Look, my record as it relates to immigrants is pretty clear, there's no hostility at all. She's just wrong about that."

Referring to rope used to corral reporters at Clinton's July 4th parade appearance, he joked to the audience about their different parade experiences.

"This last weekend I had a chance to participate in two parades only July 4th here in New Hampshire," he said. "It was a blast. I had a lot of fun. I only got bit by one dog, I'm not sure Hillary would have been bit by a dog because everything w as roped off at her parade."

Written by CBS News' Alan He.