Milford, New Hampshire — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s (R) campaign event here last Thursday was infiltrated.
By a supporter of Republican primary rival Donald Trump.
“There’s nothing he could do that could change my mind,” said the woman, who refused to be identified, of Bush.
She likes to see all the candidates when they come through New Hampshire, the crucial first-primary state. But she listed off her problems with Bush.
He’s a “RINO,” or a Republican-in-name-only. He’s not conservative enough on immigration and the Common Core education standards.
For Bush’s supporters, Trump’s continued dominance in the polls is a nightmare. At the Bush town-hall event here, Bush supporters simply shook their heads at Trump’s place in the polls.
“His whole rhetoric is just so extreme. It’s just hard to take him seriously,” Marty, a Bush supporter, told Business Insider.
Jackie, an independent who said she liked Bush but that she was “looking at everyone,” nodded when asked if she was paying attention to Trump’s statements.
“You can’t help it,” she said.
Thursday’s event couldn’t have been more different from a Trump rally.
Whereas Trump’s events often feature beer-guzzling, raucous attendees treated to a set list that includes Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Going to Take It,” some Bush supporters were not having the country music versions of Christmas songs playing over a small set of public-address speakers. Three voters sitting next to each other agreed to be interviewed by Business Insider only on the condition that a reporter agree to tell campaign staffers to turn down the music first.
Bush himself couldn’t hold back his condemnations of Trump during the event. He joked that he “almost promised not to use [Trump’s] name today,” before slamming Trump’s proposal to deport the approximately 11 million people living in the US without permission.
“That’s not a serious proposal. He’s not a serious man,” Bush said.
He added: “Pass that along, by the way. Because that will get him upset.”
But even as he continues to rebut Trump, Bush is facing an even more immediate challenge from other more establishment-oriented candidates.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has consistently placed second in most national and early-state polls following a strong performance in the last Republican debate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), meanwhile, has surged into third place behind Trump and Rubio in New Hampshire, according to the RealClearPolitics average of several recent state polls.
Still, some voters at Thursday’s event would barely even consider the possibility of a Trump candidacy.
Asked to choose between Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, Marty said she would reluctantly support Clinton.
“I think I’d fly to Europe and say, ‘Hide me quick.’ I don’t like either choice. That’s a choice I don’t anticipate,” she said. “Trump vs. anyone is scary, so I suppose I’d vote for [Clinton], as much as I don’t want to.”
Jackie told Business Insider that if faced with the choice, she wouldn’t support either.
“I’m going to write in. I’m going to write in a name,” she said.
Asked what she thought about Bush’s event once it finished, the Trump supporter smiled.
“Boiler-plate,” she said.
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