When a candidate is down and out in the polls, there’s one tried-and-true strategy that should never be overlooked: an excellent sense of humor.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, currently polling behind Donald Trump in the upcoming New Hampshire caucuses, thought that the arrival of his mother, Barbara Bush, at a rally on Thursday was the perfect time for a carefully-placed child abuse joke.

According to Politico, the Florida governor joked about his mother’s iron fist at a campaign event in Derry:

“I jokingly say that when we were growing up in Midland, in Houston, that mom was fortunate not to have a child-abuse hotline available,” he said, as attendees laughed, explaining that “the discipline of learning right and wrong was her doing.”

Other reporters watching the event picked up on the joke, which surely landed just as well as Bush had hoped.

The event was an all-around celebration of the Bush clan, with Jeb calling his father, George H.W. Bush, the “greatest man alive.” They say that high-pressure situations, like a presidential candidacy, can tear a family apart. But judging from Jeb’s blossoming bid for president, the Bushes are closer than ever.

[Image via Getty]

Contact the author at melissa.cronin@gawker.com.