“Stuff happens,” said Jeb Bush Friday, in response to this week’s shooting at an Oregon community college that left nine deceased victims and 10 injured.
Speaking at a campaign event in Greenville, South Carolina, the Republican presidential candidate said, “Look, stuff happens. There’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something, and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
Asked by a reporter if he stood by his choice of words, Bush doubled down, saying, “No, it wasn’t a mistake. I said exactly what I said. Why would you explain to me what I said wrong?”
“It’s not politically correct to say that, but you’re going to have difficulty, and that will be for the next million years, there’s going to be difficulty and people are going to slip through the cracks,” the GOP frontrunner said. “What are you going to do, institutionalize everybody?”
Following widespread condemnation of his remarks, the Bush campaign issued a statement chastising those who took Bush’s words “out of context.” “It is sad and beyond craven that liberal Democrats, aided and abetted by some in the national media, would dishonestly take Governor Bush’s comments out of context in a cheap attempt to advance their political agenda in the wake of a tragedy,” said Bush spokesperson Allie Brandenburger. “Taking shameless advantage of a horrific tragedy is wrong and only serves to prey on people’s emotions.”
In an emotional speech following Thursday’s shooting, President Obama criticized the nation as a whole for not doing enough to reduce gun violence, calling the country’s frequent mass shootings – Oregon was the 264th just this year – “a political choice we make.”
“This is something we should politicize,” the president said. “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our government to change these laws, and to save lives.”
On Friday, a reporter asked President Obama for his reaction to Bush’s comments. “I don’t even think I have to react to that one,” Obama said.
Bush has a history of backing legislation to uphold and extend gun owners’ rights, having signed Florida’s infamous stand-your-ground bill – the first such law in the nation. Trump is also generally pro-gun, though he did write in 2000 that he then supported an assault weapons ban and longer waiting periods for gun buyers.