USA

Bush apologises for saying Senate only works 'a French work week'

AFP file photo

During a Republican debate in Colorado last week, Bush criticised senator and rival presidential candidate Marco Rubio for missing Senate sessions as he campaigns for president, joking that the Senate only works "a French work week".

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“I mean, literally, the Senate – what is it, like a French work week?” Bush had asked.

His comment drew a rebuke from French Ambassador Gerard Araud and emails from French journalists, prompting the candidate to backtrack.

“I now know that the average French work week is actually greater than the German work week,” Time quoted Bush as saying. “So, my God, I totally insulted an entire country – our first ally, that helped us become free as a nation. And I apologise."

Traveling with reporters in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Bush joked that comparing the French to Congress was actually unfair to the French.

My comments "did a huge disservice to France”, he said.

Bush has seen his poll numbers slide in recent months and he sought on Monday to revive his prospects for the November 2016 election by starting a “Jeb Can Fix It Tour” in New Hampshire and releasing an e-book.

The former Florida governor, who has struggled to stand out in televised debates and whose campaign for president has reduced spending, headlined events in South Carolina and New Hampshire on Tuesday with a renewed sense of urgency.

Down in the polls

"A president can't say 'you're fired' and go to commercial break," Bush told more than 100 people at a senior centre in New Hampshire, in an apparent jab at billionaire reality television star Donald Trump, who is at or near the top of most opinion polls.

"A president has to roll up their damn sleeves and get to work," Bush added.

Bush, who has sunk to single digits in early-voting state polls, is spending more concentrated time this month in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, the first three states to hold nominating contests next year.

Backed by a political action committee that raised more than $100 million in the first half of the year, Bush was viewed early in the year as a likely front-runner, but is now fighting to emerge as the mainstream Republican standard-bearer.

With outsiders Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson leading in national polls, Bush has recently taken aim at Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has turned in steady debate performances and attracts similar segments of the Republican Party as Bush.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)
 

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