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Columba Bush Makes Quiet Pit Stop At UNR

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Julia Ritchey
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Columba Bush, the wife of GOP presidential hopeful Jeb, held a roundtable with local high school and college students at the University of Nevada, Reno, on Wednesday. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey was there.

Bush met with students in a quiet corner of UNR's campus to listen to their concerns on hot-button issues like immigration, abortion and rising student debt.

Bush spoke only periodically during the roundtable and left quickly afterward. But when she did speak, she highlighted what she called her husband's track record for fixing complicated problems while governor of Florida.

“We’ve done a number of these roundtables. We call them Coffee with Columba, or with the Hispanic community, Café Con Columba. And we’ve done seven so far, and we’re taking them on the road.”

That was Bush’s spokeswoman, Helen Aguirre Ferré, who led most of the roundtable discussion. She says this was the first one geared toward millennials in Nevada, including Kate Krolicki.

She’s a senior at George Whittell High School near Lake Tahoe and the Nevada youth engagement chair for the Bush campaign. She brought along several of her classmates who will be first-time voters next year.  

"Seniors in high school don't really get the experience or the knowledge to know who to vote for, what they should be supporting [and] what's going to be important to them when they're going through college — student loans, future jobs, and so you just gotta really show them what candidates are going to do for them for the future," she says.

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Credit Julia Ritchey
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High school senior Andy Delgado told Bush he was concerned about the immigration plans of some of the other GOP candidates.

Andy Delgado is one of Krolicki's classmates who posed a tough question on how Bush would handle immigration reform, saying it was important to him as a child of Mexican immigrants. He spoke briefly with Mrs. Bush, who's also from Mexico, about his concerns.

"And I just told her, 'It hurts my heart hearing what these other candidates are saying,'" he says. "She just said, 'I hope the same thing, too; I'm scared, I hope this goes well.' And I agree with her."

Just this week the campaign launched a new slogan, Jeb Can Fix It, aimed at reinvigorating his base after a series of lackluster debate performances.

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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