Former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul each defended their status as scions of political dynasties during the Republican presidential debate in Iowa on Thursday.
While many of the candidates have sought to dissociate from the GOP establishment, Bush embraced the association, arguing that he’s best qualified to solve problems while defending conservative principles — like those he said his family has long defended.
“Look, I’m an establishment because my Dad, the greatest man alive, was president of the United States, and my brother, who I adore as well, is a fantastic brother, was president — fine, I’ll take it,” Bush said.
“And I guess I’m part of the establishment because Barbara Bush is my mom. I’ll take that too. But this election is not about our pedigree. It’s about people who are really hurting, and we need a leader who will fix things and have a proven record to do it.”
Fox News moderator Bret Baier asked Paul about his affiliation with his father, former presidential candidate and avowed libertarian Ron Paul.
“Did you make a mistake by not more fully embracing your father politically at the beginning of the campaign?” Baier said, after noting that the Kentucky senator is “definitely not in the establishment category.”
“There’s probably no person I respect more in the country or in recent history than my father,” Paul said. “I think he was probably the most honest man in politics that we’ve ever seen in a generation, and so in no way have I ever said that I don’t embrace my father or love my father or appreciate everything that he’s done for the country.”
Paul said he expects to do well in Iowa with the backing of his father.