Campaign failure puts large exclamation point on Jeb’s lack of appeal to electorate
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush announced that he is dropping out of the 2016 electoral race. The emotional announcement came late Saturday night after a disappointing placement in South Carolina, a state that crucially assisted both of the former Bush presidents in their electoral victories. This is just one of several losses in the early determining primaries in which businessman Donald Trump has continued to lead the Republican Party.
After failure to perform week after week in the primaries, it is clear that the Republican Party is no longer looking for another Bush name. Bush underperformed expectations in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, constantly losing to more popular names like Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). Many supporters of the Bush campaign were building off the legacy of his name from his father and brother, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, respectively. Many have questioned the Bush lineage, with concerns about his family’s politics present throughout his campaign, but Bush has insisted that a campaign “can’t be about the past; it can’t be about my mom and dad, or my brother, who I love. It has to be about the ideas I believe in to move our country forward.” But voters’ tastes have evolved since the days of the last Bush presidency. What Republicans want now is not what Jeb can give them, but rather what Trump is embodying.
The Bush campaign was meant to encompass traditional Republican values that other candidates overlooked. During his campaign, Bush rejected the tactics of Tea Partiers who have vocally supported a shutdown of the federal government. Jeb has remained an adamant supporter of a reformed Common Core education program and has written a 300-page book regarding his views on immigration reform. However, as the election progressed, it became clear that his campaign was largely reliant on financial strength, as opposed to actual reforms. Bush translated his connections as former governor into donations from longtime supporters, with up to $118 million going to his Super PAC, Right to Rise USA.
The campaign called this strategy “shock and awe,” but did not think that would be describing its massive failure.
Yet, as Bush’s campaign proceeded, there was a clear failure on his behalf to embrace voters. He took only 2.8 percent of total votes in the Iowa caucus, despite having outspent his competitors there. Eventually, the donations began to diminish, and his campaign staff had to resort to budget cuts and rebranding. Bush’s withdrawal now frees up millions of dollars to the other Floridian running for the GOP nomination, Rubio, who has ties to the same bidders as Bush.
This lack of voter support stems largely from Jeb Bush’s inability to demonstrate command and leadership to the mass public. As seen through many of the GOP debates in the past year, Bush has always been weaker in attacking his fellow opponents, including his protégé Marco Rubio. He provided long-winded answers to simple questions during town halls with his voter base, and could not give concise answers in televised debates watched by millions. What he lacked in oration, however, he made up with being Donald Trump’s biggest critic. Bush would constantly critique Trump’s strategies and worldview, and assert that “our country deserves a president for everyone.” Now with Bush’s departure from the electoral race, there no longer stands a contender willing to tackle Trump’s boisterous politics.
Despite being in tears during his concession speech, Bush has stated that he will continue to fight for conservative ideals.
While the audience was also heartbroken over the loss of a high profile, true rival to Donald Trump, it is perhaps best that stronger leaders continue the fight to the White House.