Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, once the establishment and media favorite to win the Republican nomination for president in the 2016 election, pulled a disappointing 3 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucus on February 1. Though he isn’t expected to fare much better in next week’s New Hampshire primary, Jeb Bush jumped into a last-ditch campaign effort with both feet amid reports that he has so far spent $5000 per vote. “The reset has started as of tonight,” Bush told supporters Monday. “Next Tuesday, we’re going to surprise the world.”
Jeb Bush predictably referred to second place Iowa finisher Donald Trump as “unstable” and “unserious,” but his comment directed at the first and third place finishers, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), was far more memorable.
“The two other candidates that are likely to emerge in Iowa are two people that are back-benchers that have never done anything of consequence in their lives. They’re gifted beyond belief, they can give a great speech. But I think it’s time to recognize that maybe what we need is someone who can lead, someone who has a proven record.”
This shot at Marco Rubio is objectively stunning due to the fact that prior to Jeb Bush’s unexpected disaster in this race, he considered Rubio a protégé and personal friend. The frustration comes with the news that Bush is polling at a disappointing fourth in their shared home state of Florida, but still dissolves a Republican political alliance once considered to be unbreakable.
Moving on to New Hampshire on Tuesday, Jeb Bush addressed supporters with former opponent Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sitting in the front row. Another Republican establishment darling, Graham ran for the Republican nomination and dropped out a few days before Christmas 2015 after consistently polling at or near zero percent. Graham recently endorsed Jeb Bush, and his endorsement should be a powerful one as South Carolina is an early primary state and Lindsey Graham has been the state’s senior senator since 2005 — it’s too early to tell whether Jeb Bush gets a much-needed boost, and a poor performance in New Hampshire could irreparably damage his momentum.
Interestingly, Bush focused briefly on President Barack Obama and took a very similar tack against him to Donald Trump’s typical line. In a video clipped by the Boston Globe, Jeb Bush spoke of the president’s eloquent speech about unity after winning the Iowa caucus in 2008, and claimed that he and his wife, Columba Bush, developed an affinity for the promises in said speech. Bush then turned around and accused the president of lacking the skills to deliver on those promises and blamed him for the divisiveness in the current political discourse.
“Last night reminded me of eight years ago in many ways. I was in Miami at the time; my wife and I were watching the Iowa caucuses. I don’t even remember what happened on the Republican side; I just remember this really dynamic African-American senator who was effectively, really not that known […] and this young state senator [sic] — the US senator named Barack Obama, talked about how there weren’t any — there were no red states or blue states; there was only the United States of America; it was pretty moving […] And as a conservative, I was not supposed to like him. You know. But I kind of liked what he said. And it turned out that when he got elected, he didn’t take a — you know, he didn’t — he didn’t fulfill the mission; he didn’t try to forge consensus. And it turns out he doesn’t have the leadership skills necessary to even do it. That’s what I’ve concluded.”
It may be that this is what Jeb Bush has concluded by his own reasoning, but it bears a striking resemblance to what his arch nemesis Donald Trump has been saying for quite some time, creating an interesting parallel between Jeb Bush and Donald Trump that may be a veiled attempt by the Bush campaign to pull some support from Trump in New Hampshire, a state that has a much better track record at choosing the Republican nominee than Iowa has.
“That’s the one thing I thought, is that he was going to be a great cheerleader. He was really a big divider. We need cheerleading.”
One previous Mitt Romney voter attended Jeb Bush’s New Hampshire speech and told the Boston Globe that he had been leaning toward Trump until he heard Bush speak, suggesting that some of the borrowed Trump rhetoric may be working. Jeb Bush has eight campaign events scheduled in New Hampshire between Tuesday and Thursday of this week.
[Image courtesy of Andrew Burton/Getty Images]