Derry, N.H., Feb. 5 – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is no stranger to talking about disability issues on the campaign trail, but on Thursday, he became emotional talking about the topic while sharing a personal story about his daughter’s struggle with addiction.
“I think we need to look at this, first and foremost, as an illness,” Bush said during a town hall in Derry. “We need to expand recovery centers so that people that struggle with addiction have a network of people they can rely on that can share, that understand what it’s like to go through this.”
Bush also called for reform of the criminal justice system.
“Our criminal justice system has to recognize that there has to be second chances. This is a bigger issue at the federal level then it is at the state level by the way. Fifty percent of people that are serving time in our federal penitentiaries are doing it for drug-related crimes, personal, for use. And that has to change.”
As governor, Bush held a summit to create a strategy to help combat the ongoing issues with drugs. Prevention advocates, treatment providers, mental health advocates and law enforcement all joined together to discuss how they could eradicate the drug issues that the state of Florida faced which included expanding drug courts across the state.
“My daughter went to drug court and, you know, I’ve been to a lot of graduations, perhaps the most meaningful graduation for me was when she graduated from drug court because it isn’t easy. It’s not easy to do. It gave her a second chance because had she not graduated she would have gone to jail. And having that consequence was a powerful incentive for her. And thankfully, like a lot of other people, because of the help we have provided and others have been provided, Noel has been drug free for 10 years.”
New Hampshire faces a growing issue of opiate addiction. In the past few weeks, Bush has run several 30-second spots in the state that emotionally recount his daughter’s recovery with prescription drug abuse.
His mother, Barbara Bush, joined her son at his town hall. He apologized to her for calling Donald Trump a jerk when talking about the businessman’s verbal attacks on a journalist with a disability.
In addition to Bush calling a Trump a jerk while on the campaign trail discussing disability issues, Bush has a new two-minute ad airing in New Hampshire that attacks Trump. This ad, which first aired Wednesday morning during WMUR-TV’s morning news, showcases Trump’s various insults on women, veterans, and a reporter with a disability.
“It is not a sign of strength disparaging the disabled in this country,” Bush says in the ad. “It is not, it is a sign of deep insecurity and weakness.”