Speaking at a closed-door fundraiser in Texas, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told a group on donors Monday evening that one way to help avoid a terrorist attack like the one that rocked Paris last week is to revamp the U.S. immigration laws.
Bush said that some of his Republican presidential rivals were "in the witness protection program" for backing off their previous support of immigration reform – a shot at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Bush boasted of his success among Hispanics during his two terms as Florida governor and said that the attacks on France occurred in part because some people there feel like "second-class citizens."
"A set of shared values defines our citizenship and if you enforce the laws properly and allow that to be the defining element of our society, you won't have the kinds of problems that Paris now has, where enclaves exist of people that are second-class citizens and the despair and the hatred that has built up over time occurs in those pockets that exist where people may have a French passport, may be a French citizen, but they're not really French," Bush said, according to a recording obtained the Washington Post.
He added: "And America doesn't do it that way and restoring that with the proper immigration policy is something that I think is important."
Bush, who has seen his poll numbers decline amid the rise of billionaire businessman Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and, more recently, Marco Rubio, said that Trump will be in decline by the time of the next Republican debate on December 15.
The latest Real Clear Politics average of the national pols has Trump holding a one point lead over Carson, 24.3 to 23.3, while Bush is just under 20 percent behind at 5.3 percent.
The former Florida governor added that, unlike some of his hardline rivals, he has no plans to change his stance on immigration just to boost his poll numbers and that being genuine in his beliefs is something that will get him elected.
"Every other candidate, maybe with the exception of [Ohio Gov.] John Kasich, is in the witness protection program, because they sense the anger and they're worried about it," he said. "So they pull back rather than persuade. I'm not going to do that.”
The closed-door meeting was held at the Dallas home of Amy and Malone Mitchell, who are members of the campaign's "Texas Leadership Committee." Among those in attendance were former president George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura.
Guests were asked to donate a minimum of $500. "Sponsors" are supposed to give at least $1,000; "Hosts" at least $2,700; and "co-chairs," or campaign bundlers, helped raise at least $20,000.