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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — As voters get ready to hit the polls within the coming weeks in New Hampshire, presidential hopefuls are making their way there.
One of them is former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
CBS4’s Jim DeFede was also in the Primary battle state and sat down with Bush for a one-on-one interview. The hot topic of the day was gun control.
“We’re safer because we have law-abiding citizens that are packing. Now that may not work in New York where all these sophisticated people hang out or Washington, D.C. but our crime rates have been dropping consistently for the last 25 years,” said Bush.
“Do you think anything can actually pass Congress that would tighten gun restrictions that the NRA (National Rifle Association) would accept,” asked DeFede.
“Yeah. I do…on mental illness, on mental health issues. The president has a plan. I haven’t seen the specifics of it. If he has one, he should engage with Senator Cornyn who is the sponsor of a bill with Democratic support in the Senate to do just that,” said Bush. “There clearly are gaps in our mental health system right now and we should deal with that and we should make sure that rights of privacy are protected and all that but not at the extent of if you know someone is spiraling out of control, they should not be able to access a gun.”
The presidential hopeful offered an optimistic view for President Barack Obama’s executive actions on gun control announced Tuesday.
“I think if the president was willing to work with Congress, he could actually be surprised and find conservatives supporting him on that,” said Bush.
Even before the president’s announcement, Bush was touting was touting his own Second Amendment credentials and his record in Florida during a meeting with the chamber of commerce in Derry, New Hampshire.
“And to this day we continue to see a dramatic reduction in gun violence,” he told the crowd.
One event-goer interrupted him, saying, “Trayvon Martin would disagree.”
To which Bush responded, “Well, the facts are the facts.”
DeFede asked Bush about Martin and the controversial “stand your ground” law that was enacted when he was governor.
“Do you regret aspects of stand your ground?” DeFede asked him.
“I don’t, no. I think it’s a part of a suite of laws that were passed that have reduced gun violence.”
DeFede followed up with a question on Martin.
“Do you think justice was served in the Trayvon Martin case?”
“Look, I wasn’t on the jury. I trust the judicial system in Florida and our country,” he responded. “My heart goes out to his family.
Bush discussed another family tragedy during a candidates forum on treatment and addiction.
“My daughter has addiction problems and is in recovery now. Thank God, she’s drug free,” Bush said.
Bush got a little more personal about his daughter with DeFede.
“She’s doing good. She’s working. She’s a beautiful girl. She’s got challenges like we all do, but she has been drug free for over a decade now,” he told DeFede. “She’s just the joy of my life.”
Bush said he initially blamed himself for his daughter’s addiction.
“I can’t blame myself. That’s not gonna solve any problems and you just can’t do that,” he explained. “I give that advice first and foremost to people that are struggling with this, who have loved ones going through this.
Bush will be spending almost the entire week in New Hampshire, a sure sign of how important this state is for his political future.
When DeFede asked him what he needed to do in the state on election day, on February 9th, Bush said he “just needs to do well.”
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