On the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush praised firefighters, other first responders, and his brother George W. Bush, whose presidency was defined by the deadliest terrorist strike on American soil.
In short remarks during a small outdoor ceremony on a wet, overcast morning in Londonderry, New Hampshire, Bush embraced the actions of his brother, whose legacy has been, at times, a difficult subject for the former Florida governor to handle on the campaign trail.
"I'm proud of the president of the United States at the time, who unified our country in a way that was desperately needed and created a strategy to keep us safe," Bush said.
Bush said during his brief remarks that whenever he visits New York, "I always stop at the fire station to say thanks for the incredible sacrifice and service."
Fourteen years go, then-President Bush was in Florida to promote the education measure No Child Left Behind, famously reading My Pet Goat at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, when he was informed of the attacks. Less known is that the night before, the Bush brothers dined together with friends and supporters. Jeb Bush flew back to Tallahassee that night after the dinner for a Florida Cabinet meeting.
"We spent two hours talking about the books we were reading, it seems so surreal now," Bush said on Thursday during a town hall meeting in Salem. "One of the guys was reading the same book about the Civil War that my brother was reading, and they got into this really very interesting dialogue and we all sat and listened. We had no clue, obviously, what was going to happen next."
Bush recalled the dinner after a question about one of the memorial bracelets on his wrist. He said it was given to him, by the wife of a soldier who died in Afghanistan, after a campaign event in South Carolina where he pledged to overhaul the veterans' administration. "It's a reminder that I'm aspiring to the highest office in the land and commander in chief of the armed forces and this is a serious business," Bush said. "It's not a game."