HUDSON, N.H. -- A voter at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall here asked Jeb Bush Wednesday night to weigh in on recent remarks by Donald Trump about Mexican immigrants -- and the comments the business magnate tweeted about the former governor's wife.
Over the weekend, Trump had retweeted -- and then deleted -- a message suggesting that Bush has a more comprehensive view on immigration reform because of his Mexican-born wife, Columba.
Bush shrugged off the back-and-forth Wednesday night, calling Trump's comments part of "this weird little controversy that I’m not a big party to" before outlining his border security plan and reiterating that he supports a path to legal status for illegal immigrants.
"You can love the Mexican culture, you can love your Mexican-American wife and also believe that we need to control the border," Bush told the crowd. "This is a bizarre kind of idea that somehow you can have an affection for people in a different country and not think the rule of law should apply. This is ludicrous."
He added that he would push to deploy "forward-leaning border control agents" closer to the actual border; use new technologies, including drones, to monitor border traffic; and fix the E-Verify system and stop providing law enforcement funding to "sanctuary cities" that refuse to work with federal agencies to deport illegal immigrants.
As for the nation's illegal immigrants, Bush said "I honestly think we need to provide a path to legalize status, not citizenship."
"The idea that we’re going to round up 11 million people and send them back -- it’s not real. It’s not grounded in reality."
Bush never directly addressed Trump's comments, but told the crowd "I want to win" and that rhetoric like Trump's in recent weeks will hurt Republican chances of doing so.
"To win, we better start figuring out ways to message our beliefs in a way that gives people hope that everybody will be included in the progress that comes," he said.