Jeb Says “Stuff Happens” At Furman Talk

By Courtney Such, Editor In Chief

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to the Furman community Fri., Oct. 2. Photo courtesy of Courtney Such
Presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to the Furman community Fri., Oct. 2. Photo courtesy of Courtney Such

Even presidential candidates have verbal slip-ups – such as when Jeb Bush said “stuff happens” in reference to gun violence tragedy that leads to impulse legislation.

The former governor of Florida used the phrase during the Conservative Leadership Project forum held Oct. 2 in McAlister Auditorium, just one day after a gunman shot and killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Rosenburg, Ore.

Alan Wilson, S.C. Attorney General, prompted the response from a question about legislation resulting from tragedies.

“I had this challenge as governor because we had — look, stuff happens …” Bush said. “There’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

The comment sent the “Twitterverse” and political news world into an instant flurry of criticism. But Bush defended “stuff happens,” arguing the comment was not a mistake, nor was it in direct reference to the Oregon shooting the prior day.

“No, it was not a mistake – I said what I said,” he told reporters.

Campaign staffers also tried to clarify with reporters who sent the tweet before the forum ended, but they were not so easily convinced.

“Things happen all the time – things. Is that better?” the frustrated candidate asked.

Bush was referencing the amount of tragedies that lead to hasty legislation.

“Sometimes you’re imposing solutions to the problem that don’t fix the problem and take away people’s liberty and rights, and that’s the point I was trying to make,” Bush said.

President Obama said in his address to the nation Oct. 1 that events like the Oregon community college shooting are reasons why there should be more federal gun regulation. When asked about such an approach, Bush maintained his position that these decisions belong to the states.  

“I don’t know what Congress could do to deal with a tragedy like this,” he said. “This is heartbreaking. You’ve got to be careful to pass laws that don’t have the effect of solving the problem. Typically, these will be done at the state level … This ‘gun law’ is not going to be able to deal with that.”

Shifting power to the states is a central aspect to Bush’s bottom-up approach he would use if elected president.

Bush has since fallen out of the top five frontrunners in Real Clear Politics’ national poll averages, where he is currently tied with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s 7.3 percentage points.

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