This post has been updated.
During a campaign event in South Carolina on Thursday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said that he would win over black voters with a hopeful message, not “free stuff,” according to the Washington Post.
An audience member at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner asked Bush about black voters, “How are you going to include them and get them to vote for you?”
Bush mentioned his work with school choice as governor, and then said that Republicans need to attract more black voters in Virginia and Ohio.
“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said, according to the Washington Post. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”
The Post noted that Bush’s comments were similar to remarks made by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. After being booed at an NAACP event, Romney said that people who want “free stuff” shouldn’t vote for him.
“If they want more stuff from government, tell them to go vote for the other guy—more free stuff. But don’t forget, nothing is really free,” he said at a fundraiser in July 2012.
While speaking in South Carolina, Bush also defended his recent comment that the U.S. “should not have a multicultural society.”
“We’re pluralistic,” Bush said on Thursday. “We’re not multicultural. We have a set of shared values that defines our national identity. And we should never veer away from that.”
Bush’s campaign issued a statement on Friday addressing his Thursday evening remarks.
“The Democrats are creating attacks where they don’t exist because they know their policies have failed the tens of millions stuck in poverty and they fear Jeb’s positive message of expanding opportunity for everyone,” Bush spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger said.
Watch a video of Bush’s comments: