Politics & Government

Jeb Bush stumps for Thom Tillis in Greensboro

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush came to North Carolina on Wednesday to stump for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, urging the state’s voters to help get America back on track by restoring Republicans to power in the Senate.

Bush appeared with Tillis at an event at a small lighting warehouse outside Greensboro, where he also picked up the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business. Bush later headlined a Greensboro fundraiser with the candidate.

Bush was the second of three would-be GOP presidential candidates to come campaign for Tillis. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie campaigned last week in Wilmington alongside Tillis. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is scheduled to headline a Raleigh event next Wednesday.

Bush praised Tillis for driving legislative policies he said help businesses.

“He didn’t just play small ball, he played big-time policy ball,” Bush said. “And it’s had a huge impact on improving the business climate in the state.”

Bush deflected questions about his own plans for 2016. He has said he’d make a decision by the end of the year. In the meantime, he’s been helping GOP Senate candidates such as Tillis, as Republicans try to gain the six seats they need for control of the Senate.

“Republicans have shown they can lead when they gain majority status,” he said. “So I am working as hard as I can to help candidates when they’ve asked for it.”

Asked about President Barack Obama’s decision to go after Islamic State forces in Syria, Bush said he wishes the president had taken “a bigger, bolder strategy.”

Tillis said Obama is “trying to find a solution to a problem he created.”

Tillis also criticized Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan for missing meetings of the Armed Services Committee and not doing enough to counter the latest terrorist threat. He said Hagan, who chairs a subcommittee on emerging threats, had never held a hearing on ISIS, as the Islamic State is often called.

Committee spokeswoman Tara Andringa said last week that Hagan appeared to have “one of the best attendance records on the committee.”

Andringa said Hagan had chaired three hearings on counterterrorism in which al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria, as the group was formerly known, was a major focus.

“Kay held several hearings on counterterrorism that had a focus on ISIS and Syria, and earlier this month she was the only senator to question top defense officials about the rise of the Khorasan group,” Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner said Wednesday, referring to another group targeted in U.S. bombing raids.