Jeb Bush doubles down on ‘anchor baby’ remark

Updated

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush is not softening his immigration rhetoric. 

The former Florida governor doubled down on his use of the term “anchor baby” on Thursday, saying the he does not believe it’s an offensive reference to the children of undocumented immigrants born in the U.S.

RELATED: Donald Trump shoves Jeb Bush to the right on ‘anchor babies’

“If there’s another term that I come up with, I’m happy to hear it,” Bush told reporters after holding a town hall in New Hampshire.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton responded on Twitter within minutes, offering up suggestions for alternative terms.

Bush’s remarks come after he was dragged into the immigration debate by Donald Trump, who made waves this week by saying he wanted to eliminate birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants and deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Bush, who has said he opposes ending birthright citizenship, noted Thursday that changing the Fourteenth Amendment would impact “talented” people like fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, whose parents were not U.S. citizens when they gave birth to the future senator and presidential candidate.

“If people are here legally, they have a visa and they have a child who’s born here, I think that they ought to be American citizens,” Bush said. “People like Marco Rubio, by the way. That’s how he came.”

But it’s his use of the term “anchor baby” while appearing on Bill Bennett’s conservative radio show “Morning in America” Wednesday that’s making news.

“If there’s abuse, people are bringing — pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement,” he said. “That’s [the] legitimate side of this. Better enforcement so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies,’ as they’re described, coming into the country.”

MSNBC Live, 8/20/15, 3:03 PM ET

Jeb Bush strikes back at Donald Trump

Kelly O’Donnell and Ari Melber discuss Jeb Bush’s stance on
Bush has stood apart from other candidates in the GOP field for adopting a more welcoming tone toward undocumented immigrants and supporting a legal status for those with firm roots in the United States. Bush notably said in the past that immigrants who come to the United States illegally do so as an “act of love” toward their families — a position that has consistently been skewered by Trump in recent weeks. During a town hall speech in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Trump said the comment makes Bush “un-electable.”
 
Bush also went after Trump’s immigration position. “The immigration  policies that he’s brought up, they’re not conservative either,” Bush told reporters. “They’re going to cost hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars … and it will disrupt families.”

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush doubles down on 'anchor baby' remark

Updated