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Jeb Bush: I'm 'confident' I'll be the GOP nominee — and I'll be a 'disrupter'

/ Source: TODAY

Despite lackluster debate performances and plunging poll numbers, White House hopeful Jeb Bush expressed confidence Thursday in his ability to pull ahead of a crowded group of Republican candidates in time to win the race.

“I’m confident I’m going to be the Republican nominee,” he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer.

The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll placed him fifth among the field with 7 percent, a large fall from the 23 percent he pulled in April.

Bush told Lauer that the 23 percent was “probably an aberration, but nevertheless we’re working for the long haul.” He felt his campaign has focused on the right issues and rolled out top policy statements.

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“If you ask me in December where we stand when it really matters, I’ll be a contender for sure,” he said.

Bush also dispelled the idea that he can't win the support of fans of Donald Trump, who has been viewed as an anti-establishment figure. Bush said his history both as Florida governor and in the private sector as a businessman will prove he is just as much an outsider as Trump.

"I was a disrupter in Florida, and I’ll be a disrupter in Washington, D.C. as well," he said.

Bush also took issue with the way Trump has promised to send back any Syrian refugees who come to the United States seeking relief.

"That’s a horrible thing," he said, also criticizing Trump's support for the way Russian President Vladimir Putin has backed Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad. Trump also has claimed "Assad is worth supporting compared to ISIS," Bush said, referring to the Islamic terrorist group.

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"I think we need a strategy to deal with both of these evil forces. And the idea that you would send back refugees? When in American history has that ever happened?" he said. "We have to stand for certain values. Mr. Trump either doesn’t have a sense of history about American values or doesn’t care about them. Either way it's wrong."

Follow writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.