Jeb Bush on Thursday defended his use of the term “anchor babies” in an interview earlier this week, but said that he “didn’t use it as my own language.”
During a scrum with reporters that The Washington Post described as “one of his most aggressive exchanges with reporters to date,” Bush pushed back at reporters who asked whether he regretted using the term.
“No, I didn’t — I don’t, I don’t regret it. No, do you have a better term?” Bush said, according to The Hill, later adding, “You give me a better term and I’ll use it, I’m serious.”
Pressed further, he said, “Here’s the deal, what I said was it’s commonly referred to that, that’s what I said, I didn’t use it as my own language.”
So far, the former Florida governor has resisted the hard right tack taken by some GOP 2016ers — led by Donald Trump — who have called for an end of birthright citizenship, the longstanding practice of granting U.S.-born children citizenship no matter their parents’ legal status.
Bush drew flack nonetheless for using the term “anchor babies” in a radio interview Wednesday explaining his stance.
“If there’s fraud or if there’s abuse, if people are bringing, pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement,” he said. “That’s the legitimate side of this. Better enforcement so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies,’ as they’re described, coming into the country.”
Hillary Clinton was quick to jump on the comment, tweeting, “They’re called babies.”
They’re called babies. https://t.co/VyJJA26OVl
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 19, 2015
Even though he defended his use of the term Thursday, he called for a cooling of the rhetoric surrounding the debate.
“I think we need to tone down the rhetoric a little bit, talk about solutions and get on with fixing things in this country,” Bush said, according to The Washington Post.