J.E.B.(!) fumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’ on women’s health issues

Before Keegan-Michael Key invented the comic character Luther, Obama’s Anger Translator, Obama’s predecessor George “W” Bush had a translator of sorts of his own, sometimes with unintended comic effect.

You see, “W” frequently spoke in unintelligible gibberish or said something that he was not supposed to say in the way it was perceived or understood by the media. Invariably, every time that “W” spoke, within an hour after he spoke the White House had to send out a translator to explain that the president misspoke, “what he really meant to say was ….”

This apparently is a Bush family trait. Recall Texas Governor Ann Richards’ famous 1988 DNC  National Convention speech about “W’s” daddy, George H. W. Bush: “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Already this year, J.E.B.(!) Bush has had to have his campaign spokesmen issue a correction on several occasions to explain “what he really meant to say was ….” See, Jeb(!) fumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’ on the Iraq question; and Out of touch Plutocrat Jeb(!) says Americans need to work longer hours and be more productive, for example.

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J.E.B.(!) managed to put his silver foot in his mouth yet again this week over funding women’s health care while pandering to the GOP crazy base over Planned Parenthood.

The Hill reports, Jeb Bush says he ‘misspoke’ about women’s health being overfunded:

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush says he “misspoke” on Tuesday when he questioned the level of federal funding for women’s health services.

“With regards to women’s health funding broadly, I misspoke, as there are countless community health centers, rural clinics, and other women’s health organizations that need to be fully funded. They provide critical services to all, but particularly low-income women who don’t have the access they need,” Bush said in a statement released by his campaign.

Bush quickly came under fire on social media for his initial remarks about women’s health funding, with Hillary Clinton calling them “absolutely, unequivocally wrong.”

[See Clinton blasts Bush over women’s health comment: “He’s got no problem giving billions of dollars away to the super wealthy and powerful corporations … but I guess women’s health isn’t a priority for him,”  added Clinton, Bloomberg reported.]

The controversy started at the Southern Baptist Forum, where Bush was pushing back on the Democratic argument that defunding Planned Parenthood is part of a “war on women.”

“You could take dollar for dollar — although I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues — but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine community health organizations that exist to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues,” he said.

In his follow-up statement, Bush said he was referring to the “hard-to-fathom” $500 million in federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives each year.

The campaign’s attempt to clarify Bush’s remarks caused confusion at first, with a statement circulated over email to reporters initially omitting the line that said he had misspoken.

The campaign then appeared to pull down the statement posted online that said he “misspoke”; minutes later he sent a second version to reporters that included the line.

The response is sure to fuel new attacks from Democrats, who quickly pounced on Bush’s remarks at the forum.

“Jeb Bush is sure about one thing — he wants to restrict access to affordable health care for women, which isn’t surprising considering his ‘shame and blame’ playbook. This backwards ideology isn’t only the exact opposite of what women need from their next president — it could put the health of millions of women in jeopardy,” said Kaylie Hanson, the director of women’s media for the Democratic National Committee.

The kidz at POLITICO Tiger Beat on the Potomac add, Jeb Bush’s ad-lib offers Dems another gift:

Another ill-advised ad lib from Jeb Bush, another opportunity for Democrats.

Looking to curry favor with religious conservatives at the outset of a competitive primary fight, Bush on Tuesday repeated his call to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood — and then he went even further, questioning the amount of government support for women’s health programs generally.

The Romneyesque unforced error drew a fast and furious backlash from Democrats, causing Bush to backtrack almost immediately and to acknowledge that he “misspoke.”

* * *

As Bush knows, Democrats savaged the GOP’s 2012 nominee, Mitt Romney, for his own calls during the primary to defund Planned Parenthood.

“A few more months of this and the GOP will be wishing for a candidate with the political skills of Mitt Romney,” tweeted Dan Pfieffer, a former communications director for President Barack Obama.

* * *

In talking about health care and health spending, Bush opened himself up to an examination of his record as Florida governor, when he did relatively little about the rising cost of health insurance and the spiking rates of the uninsured. The number of Floridians under age 65 who lacked insurance rose from nearly 17 percent to more than 20 percent from the time he took office in 1999 to the time he left in 2007, according to Florida and Census data. During his two terms, Medicaid rolls swelled 31 percent — from 1.6 million people to 2.1 million — and cost taxpayers $14.6 billion by the time he left office. So many people were on public assistance in Florida that more than 45 percent of all births were subsidized by Medicaid.

Bush’s record aside, the video of his Tuesday comments could be used to devastating effect in television ads against him next fall, should he become the Republican nominee.

* * *

Tuesday’s comments mark the third occasion in recent weeks in which an inartfully phrased comment has sparked criticism from Democrats and put Bush on the defensive.

Last month, Bush had to explain his statement that “workers need to work longer hours,” after Democrats portrayed Bush as having said that workers are lazy; and he also had to walk back a comment about “phasing out” Medicare after it was unclear whether he was referring to the specific program or more generally to ballooning entitlements.

Just as his struggles to answer a question about the Iraq war back in May caused concern for supporters that Bush hadn’t shaken off the rust of nearly a decade away from politics, this series of gaffes may produce similar concerns just as Bush is set to take the stage for the first GOP debate in Cleveland on Thursday.

Oooh, like Romney’s “binders full of women”? J.E.B.(!) does know this is already  a drinking game, doesn’t he?

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