MANCHESTER, New Hampshire — Jeb Bush on Wednesday called Donald Trump “Barack Obama — the other version of it,” as he campaigned in New Hampshire with a surrogate who’s said he’d vote for Hillary Clinton over Trump.
“It just sends a signal to the world that we’re not serious,” Bush told reporters after a young professionals event at St. Anselm College. He was making the point Obama has divided the country in a way that’s similar to Trump.
Bush praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who Israeli media reported has condemned Trump’s remarks.
“It’s not going to help the security of Israel, it’s not going to help the security of the United States. It pushes away allies that are necessary,” Bush said.
Waiting at the back of the room was Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor and Homeland Security secretary, who planned multiple events on Bush’s behalf in New Hampshire. On “Meet the Press Daily” on Tuesday, Ridge said he would back Clinton over Trump after the business mogul’s call to ban Muslims from the country.
Bush repeated his previous assertions that Trump is a good politician who plays to fear and angst — but added that he doesn’t believe Trump has thought realistically about actually becoming president.
“He’s been the front-running candidate for five months and he hasn’t said, ‘Wow, I might be president, I might have to hear who’s the head of the Quds force and why it matters,” Bush said.
Bush is staking his entire campaign on New Hampshire, where a super PAC supporting him has already spent millions — but where he’s still far behind his rivals in polling. He’s spending at least part of three days this week holding events across the state.
Bush’s comments to reporters came at the conclusion of an unusual event with students and other young professionals — four young adults peppered him with unusual questions like who he would invite to a party at the White House. The result was sometimes funny and often awkward. Bush described his own introverted personality and tendency to be serious; but also occasionally dropped in a droll joke. At one point, he held forth at some length about the quality of the bed he’d bought for his Miami home, saying how much he missed it, drawing titters from the crowd.
Then he was asked about studying abroad.
“I had a Latin American affair before I had a degree in it,” Bush said, referring to meeting his wife, Columba, in Mexico before finishing his undergraduate degree in Latin American studies.
Asked which celebrity he’d want to meet, Bush scoffed. “I really don’t believe in celebrity. I just don’t. I find it superficial,” he said. “I got into a big fight with Matt Damon about school choice.”
But he was introspective when one student asked what he would emulate about his father, saying that George H.W. Bush was “near perfect” and that he only hoped to be half the man his dad is.
“He treats the person that is serving in a hotel the same way he would treat a head of state and just to be grounded that way, everything else kind of flows from that,” he said.
This article first appeared on NBCNews.com.