Jason Noble, email@example.com
DUBUQUE, Ia. — Jeb Bush began his final full day campaigning in Iowa quietly and reflectively, taking in Mass at the Cathedral of St. Raphael here.
Bush typically returns home to Miami on Sundays to attend mass and spend time with his family. Sunday, though, is the last day of a statewide campaign swing ahead of Monday’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Jason Noble/The Register
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush talks with man outside the Cathedral of St. Raphael in Dubuque on Sunday morning. Bush attended mass at the church on the final day before Iowa caucuses.
He is heading to New Hampshire later Monday to campaign.
He was joined at church by his wife, Columba; son, Jeb Jr.; and Leo Thorsness, the retired Air Force colonel and Medal of Honor recipient who has campaigned extensively with Bush in recent months. They took a pew at the center of the sprawling sanctuary, Bush huddled close to his wife throughout the service and frequently leaning over to whisper in her ear.
Associate Pastor Alan Dietzenbach began his homily by describing a moment in a previous service when he’d recognized a man in the crowd but couldn’t place his face. Afterward, he asked the man if he knew him from somewhere.
“He said, ‘Well, I’m Rick Santorum, and I’m running for president,’ ” Dietzenbach recalled, drawing a laugh from Bush and the rest of the crowd.
The rest of the homily explored the challenges facing prophets who try to spread the Gospel but find audiences uninterested or unwilling to hear them.
Afterward, as Dietzenbach greeted parishioners at the back of the sanctuary, he clutched Bush’s hand and said with a smile, “I know who you are.”
This being Iowa in the waning hours of the caucus campaign, there was one more moment of political serendipity. Just as Bush exited the sanctuary, two men approached him and struck up a conversation. They were Robert and Ronnie Paul — brothers of Bush’s 2016 presidential rival Rand Paul.
It turns out the Pauls and Bushes have a bit of history. Bush’s father was a congressman from Texas in the 1960s, while the Paul brothers’ father, Ron Paul, served several terms in Congress beginning in the '70s. (Both represented the Houston area and both also ran for president, albeit with varying degrees of success.)
Ronnie reminded Bush of a campaign event they’d attended together in Texas in 1980, one in which Jeb Bush caused some kind of stir with an unfortunate “slip of the tongue” during a speech. Bush remembered the moment immediately.
“Hey, don’t spread that story around,” Bush joked as he and Ronnie Paul parted ways.
“Yeah, we’re gonna tell everybody!” Paul replied with a chuckle.
“There’s a statute of limitations on that,” Bush said.
From Dubuque, Bush headed to Hiawatha for a rally with supporters and volunteers at his Cedar Rapids-area campaign office. He was there joined by his wife, who rarely appears on the campaign trail.
He went on to Davenport, where he urged voters not to write him off, then called on Republican caucusgoers to back his mix of government reforms, military strength and experience.
Bush said a reporter who interviewed him earlier in the day was speaking as if he’d already lost the caucuses.
“I’m thinking, dude, last time I checked it's 7 p.m. tomorrow when Iowans make this decision,” Bush said to cheers to a crowd of about 300 at a Elks Lodge.
USA Today reporter Trevor Hughes contributed to this story.