"Jeb Bush will be the Republican Party's 2016 presidential candidate because he has a political rock star name,” journalist Ben Guise wrote in The Des Moines Register back in January of 2015.
“He’s got money, momentum, Florida, big ideas” —Mike Allen
“From Team Bush, it’s a bitter pill to swallow,” Jeb Bush’s son, George P. Bush, admitted on August 6th, 2016, before his clipped endorsement of Republican Presidential Nominee, Donald Trump.
Americans across the nation tuned in this primary season to watch, astounded, as Jeb Bush transformed from a fundraising superhuman – and heir apparent to the presidential throne – into an exploded fuselage of Republican dreams and money in an extraordinary display of campaign whiffing.
While the infamous playground bully, Donald Trump, successfully dashed the presidential hopes of all the Republican primary candidates, the casualty of Jeb Bush’s campaign stood out as the most spectacularly awkward and hard to watch. The Republican establishment’s darling candidate contorted and grimaced in his limelight tussle with the ‘anti-establishment Billionaire’ (sic), and, in the end, failed to contend against his tormenter’s most persistent and pointed insult: Jeb Bush, to hear Mr. Trump tell it, was a ‘low-energy’ candidate.
The Fall and Fall of Jeb!
Join us as we revisit a few of the highlights in the campaign of the little Bush that could not.
It began on a quiet Monday in June of 2015. As he stood behind a podium on a stage in Miami, Jeb Bush declared his candidacy for the highest office in the land, shocking no one.
The very next day, even before the dust had settled in that Miami college auditorium, the harbinger of Jeb’s doom rode down an escalator and, taking root behind a podium, announced his own candidacy amid a mixed torrent of racial insults and fractured digressions. Throughout his diatribe, Donald Trump condoned our nation of losers, so many losers, really, huge losers, of which at least one truly nasty breed included Jeb’s class of establishment politicians. This new candidate promised to return the nation to greatness, and upon this promise lit a wildfire that would grow ravage, consuming Jeb in its wrath.
To be clear, Jeb did not enter the race for president wearing a brilliant set of armor. Most notably, he was burdened by the tepid presidencies of his father, George Bush Sr., and brother, George W. Bush. While arguably the gentler, more studious sibling, he shared his brother’s proclivity for the verbal gaffe. Early in his campaign, in response to a question about funding for Planned Parenthood, Jeb said he was, “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” Unfortunately for Jeb, today women compose a substantial block of the voting public.
During that same month, Jeb remarked upon ‘anchor babies’ during a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border, a term referring to children strategically born on American soil to immigrant parents. When the derogatory nature of the term was questioned, he defended it, saying he would use a better word if given the option, but that he currently knew no other word. In attempt to soften the impact on his image in the eyes of Latino voters, he also clarified that his use of the term applied more to ‘Asian people’ than any other group. Unfortunately for Jeb, todays voting public is also widely diverse and multicultural, with many registered voters of Asian heritage.
However, while Jeb flubbed and gaffed on the trail, insulting specific genders and ethnicities, his speech and ideology was comparatively modest, and when he gaffed he did his best to rebound, apologize and clarify. This ability for self-mitigation may have been his Achilles heel.
Because elsewhere on the campaign trail, Donald Trump was unrestrained in his wide blast insults towards anyone not white, male and mad as hell, and for this he was princely rewarded at the polls.
Conversely, Jeb did everything to portray himself as a balanced, sane everyman, with a belief system founded in conservative Christian ideology. In was in light of this soft persona that Donald Trump called Jeb a ‘low-energy’ candidate. Seemingly due to his civility, Jeb plunged in the polls.
He would never recover.
The Attempted Comeback
In a failed attempt to escape the title of ‘low-energy’, Jeb joked during one of the Republican debates that his secret service name would be ‘High Energy’. Mr. Trump giggled and nodded at the podium to Jeb’s right, and when Mr. Trump held out a hand for a low-five slap, Jeb pounced on it with the enthusiasm of a tee-baller who’s just scored his first base hit. The audience applauded.
But eventually the applause, too, was gone. Towards the end of his campaign, as Jeb struggled to muster enthusiasm from a sparsely populated room of bored supporters, the candidate had to literally ask for applause when his battle cry on the type of leader he would be failed to elicit a response.
Jeb’s final Hail Mary came in the form of a tweet. After he bought his first firearm and had it inscribed with ‘Gov. Jeb Bush’, he tweeted a photo of the purchase with the single-word caption: ‘America’. Reports estimate Jeb Bush’s campaign spent upwards of $2,800 per vote in the state of Iowa, proving money doesn’t always buy elections.
Jeb finally left the race on February 20th, after a poor performance in the South Carolina primary.
Jeb Bush was 63 years old; his campaign, dead at 8 months.