Jeb Bush’s problem is basically this: everyone knows who he is, and nobody likes him. In an effort to combat that rather ego-killing dilemma, he’s showing a more personal side, releasing an ad about his daughter Noelle’s issues with drug addiction. Bush began supporting more lenient sentences for drug users after Noelle briefly went to jail.
The ad, above, shows Bush speaking last week at a New Hampshire forum on heroin. “This is a huge problem,” he tells a crowd. It’s not just heroin, It’s drug addiction in general. And I have personal experience with this as a dad. My daughter Noelle was addicted to drugs. And today I called her and told her that i was gonna talk about her in this public setting. It’s not easy to do. and she said, ‘Go, do it, I wanna help.’ She was put in jail and then she went to drug court, and it was tough. It was really hard.”
Bush was serving as Governor when Noelle, then 24, was arrested in 2002 for trying to fill a fake Xanax prescription. She later served 72 hours in jail after staff at her court-ordered rehabilitation center found stolen prescription pills in her possession, then ten more days for hiding crack cocaine in her shoe. The same year—at the very same time as Noelle’s troubles hit the news, actually —Bush opposed a ballot measure that would have steered more drug users to treatment instead of prison. Mother Jones found that Bush vetoed 32 budget line items, totaling around $13 million, which would have funded substance abuse programs and reintegration for people released from prison.
Noelle has reportedly been clean for over a decade. In recent years, and who can only guess why, Bush has come to support a somewhat more humane drug policy, supporting lower mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug users and embracing drug courts, which tend to dole out rehab sentences instead of jail time for first-time drug offenders.
A Gallup poll released last week found that 89 percent of Republican voters know who Bush is, even as most of them don’t trust him: his “favorability rating” is the lowest of any major GOP candidate.