Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is unapologetic about the $120 million war chest
he's raised for his 2016 campaign, and he made it clear that he's hoping to attract more contributions from wealthy donors in the coming months.
"I think you might as well front-load it if you can," Bush said at the Koch Brothers' Freedom Partners summit
this weekend, according to Politico.
"I mean, this is a long haul. Are you supposed to just warm up, just kind of work your way into it? Am I missing something here?" he said, drawing laughter from the audience of donors. "I'm running hard, I'm running to win; I'm not running to come in third, I'm not running to, to, you know, have it on my resume that I ran for president."
"This is not the purpose. The purpose is to run with purpose, run with heart, run in a way that draws people towards our cause and money helps. Money helps," Bush said.
"I'm playing by the rules of the game, the way it's laid out. And if people don't like it, that's just tough luck."
The three-day conference in California marked the annual gathering of donors who contribute to the network of conservative Koch-backed groups. Five GOP hopefuls came before the forum
to be questioned about their positions on a range of issues in addition to Bush: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Bush took aim at the Obama administration's new rules on carbon emissions
, calling them "a disaster" and "jobs-killer."
He also pledged that as president he would not allow tax hikes in exchange for spending cuts, but stopped short of making a no-tax pledge.
"I don't sign pledges," Bush said. "I actually have the benefit of a record where I cut taxes every year — every year — $19 billion worth of taxes. I don't have to sign pledges. It's in my core. It's who I am."
Bush drew a contrast to rivals, insisting his experience as a governor set him apart from others in the pack.
"Executive leadership," he said, "is different than talking about things."
The Koch brothers have pledged to spend $889 million on the 2016 race, most of it after the GOP nominee has been chosen.
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