WASHINGTON -- Jeb Bush says he has righted the ship.
The former governor of Florida -- who is all but certain to enter the 2016 presidential race -- returned to the campaign trail Wednesday after a storm of negative headlines over his comments on the Iraq War and a confrontation with a college student who shouted “Your brother created ISIS.” He reassured supporters that, at least for the moment, smooth sailing was ahead.
"It got a little bumpy, but all is well now. The ship is stable," Bush said at a luncheon with local business leaders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the beginning of a two-day swing through the Granite State.
Rather than re-litigate his brother's unpopular war, as he was forced to do in four painful answers last week, the governor sought to address the challenges facing Iraq today -- as many conservatives who took issue with his original comments have urged him to do.
"I totally get the past being an issue, but I think the focus now is what strategy do we have to take out [the Islamic State]," Bush said, adding that President Barack Obama and his administration "abandoned" the Middle Eastern country in the aftermath of this brother's administration.
His comments come just a day after Iraqi government forces suffered an embarrassing defeat in Ramadi, Iraq, that has raised questions over the Obama administration's strategy to combat the extremist group.
Bush also spoke about the need to restore bipartisanship in hyper-partisan Washington, telling attendees at the luncheon that if he runs and is elected president, he would first place phone calls to the Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress in order to restore a "climate of civility."
But, he assured, repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, would still be a "high, high priority" in his first 100 days in office.