GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, perhaps hoping to embellish his conservative credentials, was in Oklahoma City Tuesday morning for a private fundraising breakfast.
He was to be introduced and formally endorsed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a staunch critic of the Obama administration and, more specifically, of what conservatives assert has been glaring federal overreach.
Prior to the breakfast, which was held at the Petroleum Club downtown, Bush and Pruitt spent about 30 minutes in a nearby coffee shop where Bush spoke exclusively with News 9.
According to the latest polls, which showed Donald Trump losing ground to Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina, Bush remains mired in the single digits, well behind them all.
Critics, including Trump, have said the Bush campaign lacks energy.
Bush made light of such criticism during the last debate and insists his is an ideas-driven campaign, but his announcement Tuesday indicated he understands the need to energize his base and believes that Pruitt can help.
“I believe that ideas have consequences and policy really matters, and General Pruitt’s going to play a key role in that,” Bush said.
The Bush campaign wants voters to know that its candidate has been concerned about the federal government exerting undue influence over the states for more than a decade.
They say his conservative principles are not just talk, and that’s why, as just a candidate, he's launching an initiative to “re-balance the federal-state relationship,” and why he’s tapped Pruitt to lead the initiative.
“General Pruitt has been one of the leaders in the country of advocating the 10th Amendment, and the proper balance of the federal government in our lives,” Bush said.
Pruitt said joining Bush's team was an easy call. He said no other candidate has been as outspoken on what he firmly believes is an imbalance of power between Washington, D.C. and the states.
“He’s taken a very strong position on regulatory reform, making sure that agencies don’t overreach and impede the state’s ability to grow,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt said he’s not at all concerned about the latest polls. He believes Bush should win Oklahoma.
“Absolutely,” said Pruitt. “I mean, the governor's message for Oklahomans is we believe in Oklahomans to make the decisions they need to be making for a better life.”
And Bush believes he can win it all.
“I'm going to win when I show my heart for people, the plight that they're in,” Bush said. “We have to change the course of Washington so that they can have a chance to rise up. I have the leadership skills to do that.”
Bush said he won’t be the loudest person on the stage and he won’t insult people. Clearly, he’s hoping that his actions will speak loudly enough for him.