Jeb Bush says he 'misspoke' on Planned Parenthood funding after getting slammed by Hillary Clinton on Twitter

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks at the National Urban League's conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida July 31, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew InnerarityThomson ReutersRepublican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks at the National Urban League’s conference in Fort Lauderdale

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Tuesday seized on comments from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), a potential general-election rival, about the women’s health and family-planning organisation Planned Parenthood.

The former Secretary of State criticised Bush in a tweet over his calls to defund the organisation, following the release of controversial videos showing a company representative discussing harvesting fetal tissue from aborted fetuses.

Bush’s comments about Planned Parenthood also included an apparently aside in which he said he was “not sure we need half-billion dollars for women’s health issues,” a reference to the federal funding Planned Parenthood receives.

The videos, shot by an anti-abortion group, show a Planned Parenthood representative discussing selling aborted fetal tissue while eating salad and drinking wine. The company maintains that it does not sell fetal tissue, and says that the videos are highly-edited.

Shortly following Clinton’s tweet, Bush walked back his comments, saying he “misspoke.”

“With regards to women’s health funding broadly, I misspoke, as there are countless community health centres, rural clinics, and other women’s health organisations that need to be fully funded. They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don’t have the access they need,” Bush said.

“I was referring to the hard-to-fathom $US500 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood — an organisation that was callously participating in the unthinkable practice of selling fetal organs. Democrats and Republicans agree we absolutely must defund them and redirect those funds to other women’s health organisations.”

Some conservative-leaning writers and observers criticised Bush, as Republicans seek to avoid “gaffes” that plagued candidates in the 2012 election cycle.

Despite calling the procedures described in the videos “disturbing,” Clinton has gone on the offensive on the issue, saying that the leading GOP candidates are out of touch with women’s health needs. 

“Republicans like Scott Walker and Jeb Bush are calling to defund Planned Parenthood, the country’s leading provider of reproductive healthcare,” Clinton said in a recent video. “If this feels like a full-on assault on women’s health, that’s because it is.”

HIllary ClintonAP Photo/Charlie NeibergallDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton tours the Des Moines Area Rapid Transit Central Station with general manager Elizabeth Presutti, left, and building superintendent Keith Welch, Monday, July 27, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Bush is hardly alone in calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

On Monday night, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared via satellite at a the Voters First Forum after voting to defund the organisation, which receives a large chunk of its money from the federal government.

Clinton has shown that she’s unlikely to play nice with Bush, who she views as a possible general-election matchup next year.

Speaking before Bush at the National Urban League conference over the weekend, Clinton criticised Bush immediately before he was set to take the stage, slamming him over his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and raising the minimum wage.

“People can’t rise if they can’t afford health care,” Clinton said, mocking the name of the super PAC, “Right to Rise,” that supports Bush. 

“They can’t rise if the minimum wage is too low to live on.”

Tuesday’s tweet appears to be part of an emerging Clinton strategy of engaging directly with her Republican rivals online.

Last week, Clinton shot back at Rubio over his criticism of President Barack Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.

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