• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Jeb Bush Campaign Just Mostly Dead

three-generations-bush

While the horse race aspect of campaigning is fascinating for political junkies and the life blood of media coverage, it’s pretty much a fool’s errand a year out.

In December 2003, Howard Dean was running away with the race for the Democratic nomination while John Kerry was mortgaging one of his wife’s houses to keep his campaign afloat.

At this point in 2007, John McCain’s bid for the nomination had been pronounced dead numerous times.  He’d fired half his campaign staff, was dead broke, and changed management more than once.

At this point in 2011, Herman Cain was leading the race for the Republican nomination. By mid-December, Newt Gingrich had a sizable lead on the field. Once he fell away, Rick Santorum took the lead, winning the Iowa Caucuses and topping the national polls into late February.

With Joe Biden definitely not running and everyone tiring of both Benghazi and the email scandal, it’s next to inconceivable that Hillary Clinton won’t cruise to the Democratic nomination. She’s down to two nominal challengers, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, and neither has the charisma to unseat her.

At the same time, it’s virtually inconceivable that Donald Trump, much less Ben Carson, will win the Republican nomination when all’s said and done. Neither of the major parties has nominated someone that unconventional in my lifetime (I’m knocking on the door of 50), if ever.

There’s a first time for everything, I guess. It’s possible, I suppose, that a Republican nominating electorate that chose Romney a mere three years ago and has gone with the establishment guy in every contest in living memory except 1964—an unmitigated disaster for the party—has simply gone of the deep end. But it’s much more likely that we’re seeing a catharsis that will be out of the party’s system by time the primaries roll around.

The seeming implosion of Jeb Bush’s campaign is surprising, given both his establishment backing and his skills as a politician. But he’s failed to separate himself from the field of not-Trumps and has made the mistake Hillary Clinton did in 2008 of running a general election campaign before securing the nomination. In particular, he’s spent his considerable early fundraising advantage building a ground game in states who won’t hold primaries for months rather than concentrating on building a firewall in New Hampshire.

Still, he’s more likely to bounce back in the manner of Kerry, McCain, and Romney than to go away like Scott Walker. The establishment will rally against Trump and Bush is the most obvious choice for them to back. John Kasich has managed to excite the public even less and Marco Rubio simply isn’t ready for prime time.

 

 

 

Related Posts:

  • None Found

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    Oh well . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Gulliver says:
  3. Rafer Janders says:

    JEB!’s not dead, he’s just pining for the fjords….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Mr. Prosser says:

    He’ll be back. The Bush clan and their advisers will start the standard Bush campaign smear tactics against the others just as they did with the Willy Horton ad and the disgusting junk they pulled on McCain in South Carolina in 2000.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Andre Kenji says:

    Jeb! always had a huge liability in his brother and to a lesser extent, in his father. Trump simply obliterated him when he forced him to defend his brother, but sooner or later he would HAVE to that. Even if his brother wasn´t a disaster in the Presidency putting three people from the same family in the Presidency in less than thirty years is something that even countries in Africa or Latin America had not managed to do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. edmondo says:

    The seeming implosion of Jeb Bush’s campaign is surprising, given both his establishment backing and his skills as a politician.

    What skills? His one and only “skill” is being Poppy’s son. His problem is that he’s also W’s brother.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Rafer Janders says:

    The seeming implosion of Jeb Bush’s campaign is surprising, given both his establishment backing and his skills as a politician.

    Yes, what skills as a politician? He lost his first race for governor of Florida, then won when he ran a second time. Apart from being elected governor of a Republican state while being the son of the sitting Republican president, what political feats has he accomplished that demonstrate “skills”??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    I agree with nearly everything you say James. Trump was always in it just to feed his ego and Carson to sell books and increase his speaking fees. After they drop out who do they have but Jeb? You are right when you say Rubio is not ready for prime time and I doubt he ever will be – he doesn’t come across as someone who is very smart. Rubio’s recent foreign policy speech consisted entirely of repeating neocon talking points. I doubt he could win even a majority of the third generation Cubans.
    You are also right when you say that Hillary Clinton is now inevitable and I don’t see anyone in the Republican’s “deep bench” who could defeat her including Jeb.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Ron Beasley says:

    I agree with nearly everything you say James. Trump was always in it just to feed his ego and Carson to sell books and increase his speaking fees. After they drop out who do they have but Jeb? You are right when you say Rubio is not ready for prime time and I doubt he ever will be – he doesn’t come across as someone who is very smart. Rubio’s recent foreign policy speech consisted entirely of repeating neocon talking points. I doubt he could win even a majority of the third generation Cubans.
    You are also right when you say that Hillary Clinton is now inevitable and I don’t see anyone in the Republican’s “deep bench” who could defeat her including Jeb.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. stonetools says:

    There’s a first time for everything, I guess. It’s possible, I suppose, that a Republican nominating electorate that chose Romney a mere three years ago and has gone with the establishment guy in every contest in living memory except 1964—an unmitigated disaster for the party—has simply gone of the deep end. But it’s much more likely that we’re seeing a catharsis that will be out of the party’s system by time the primaries roll around.

    I used to think this. But Trump and Carson has been atop the Republican polls for a long time and the establishment candidates have shown no traction at all. None of the establishment candidates(Bush, Rubio,Kasich) have been able to crack ten per cent in the national polls. Heck, at this point all three combined haven’t been able to crack 20 per cent.
    I think what we are seeing here is the result of 30 years of crazy right wing propaganda with no pushback from the establishment. At this point the Republican base really believes the FoxNews/talk show nonsense about Obama being the evil Kenyan usurper plotting to take away everyone’s guns and turning America into a socialist Soviet Republic through Obamacare. If you rev up the base to vote for you by broadcasting nothing but crazy stuff to them, don’t be surprised if the base ends up believing this and then preferring candidates who run on promising to actually implement the crazy stuff. If all you hear is talk about the “Mexican invasion”, then Donald Trumps the one who makes sense by talking about a wall and deporting the brown people, and Bush paradoxically is the crazy one.
    Time will tell, but it looks to me like the Republicans really want their Truly Conservative Candidate who will bring the right wing revolution next November.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. stonetools says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I agree with nearly everything you say James. Trump was always in it just to feed his ego and Carson to sell books and increase his speaking fees. After they drop out who do they have but Jeb?

    Maybe you are right. But I think we have to keep a careful eye on Ted Cruz.Yes, a lot of his fellow Republicans hate him and to a liberal his rhetoric is crazy and offensive. But if Trump and Carson fall away, I think the natural magnet for their supporters is Cruz, not Bush.
    Also too, he has quietly raised a ton of money. IMO, Cruz is well placed once the primaries start and things get serious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. James Joyner says:

    @edmondo: @Rafer Janders: He was always regarded as a highly skilled politician and leader. He worked quite well across the aisle in Florida, sweeping easily to re-election. And, no, Poppy had lost to Clinton and left office at the time Jeb ran for governor the first time and had been out of office almost six years when he won his second attempt.

    @stonetools: I think it’s just a function of there being so many candidates and none except Trump being particularly differentiated in the public mind. There’s usually more of a chance to stand out but it’s nearly impossible with the current clown show.

    I’m not saying that Jeb has been a great candidate. That he hasn’t prepared to deal with the inevitable questions about his brother is baffling to me, although I get that it’s challenging given family loyalties. But both parties have always nominated a mainstream, conventionally qualified candidate even if an insurgent looked good early.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. MarkedMan says:

    I suspect the Trump/Carson show, as well as the Palin/Santorum/Cain/Gingrich merrygoround of the last election cycle, is damaging the Republicans in other, more long term ways. If you are a competent and serious young person with a desire to go into public service, does the current Republican Party have any appeal? Of course not. On the other hand if you are a crazy, shallow, anti intellectual buffoon, well, isn’t the leadership showing by example that this is your natural spot?

    If you are young and think climate change is the biggest long term challenge we face and accept the reality that goverments are the only way to tackle truly long term problems* or that our infrastructure is crumbling, or that even if we were to bring it up to par it would still be a system designed between 1900 and 1970, and you want to do something about those things, what party would you join?

    James, you keep on hoping that your party can change from within and so you remain loyal. But it is already your party. What kind of appeal does it have for a serious, competent young person? On the other hand, a racist? A blowhard? Someone who wants easy answers and handy groups to blame? Those are your new recruits.

    * Fact: virtually all projects in multinational companies are analyzed against a 10 year horizon, with the value of the returned dollars dropping off by 10-18% per year. There is simply no way that an investment with a longer horizon gets funded. That means in the 10th year a dollars worth of profits are calculated at 25 cents or less. I know of one company that goes out 20 years, but that would mean the 20th year dollar is worth only a nickel. Needless to say, projects with more immediate returns always win.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner: re: your comment on how baffling it is that Jeb was unprepared to respond to challenges on W’s record. Initially, I was chalking it up to poor political skills and was wondering where he had gotten such a good reputation. But as it has dragged out I’m wondering if it has more with living in the Fox bubble. Jeb! moves in an environment of immense wealth and privilege and is an alpha male in that venue. I don’t imagine there are many in his circle that call him out. And it appears that he gets most of his media information from Fox and their ilk. So when some reporter challenged him on Benghazi vs. 9/11 and pointed out that his brother had been warned repeatedly in the months and weeks leading up to the attack, he flat out denied that there had been any warnings. Well read people know that these warnings are part of the public record. But Jeb reacted as if he truly had never heard of them. His response that they never existed has just led to another cycle of media republishing them. The politically astute thing to do at the beginning was simply to say “my brother is a good and decent man and did everything he could to keep this country safe. But I’m not looking to the past, I’m looking to the future. Next question.” But I think he couldn’t help himself because in his world only crazy lunatics believe W was warned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. stonetools says:

    @James Joyner:

    But both parties have always nominated a mainstream, conventionally qualified candidate even if an insurgent looked good early.

    Almost always. See McGovern 1972, Goldwater 1964.I think you also discount the new phenomenon of the Fox News/talk radio/social media bubble. It’s possible for conservatives to swim all day inside a media bubble that tells them that everything Trump and Carson promises is sensible and possible, if just the right person gets elected President.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  16. James Joyner says:

    @stonetools: I was six when McGovern ran, so don’t really have a contemporary feel for how he was perceived. While I long had the impression that he was very left for his time he was also very conventionally qualified: war hero, history PhD, Congressman, and Senator. Goldwater, mentioned in the OP, was likewise well qualified but truly an ideological outlier even in his own party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: I know a lot of people, including well educated and successful professionals, who live in the Fox News bubble. But I don’t think that state governors and others who actually play in the policy world get their information that way. He may just be more like his father, who was a talented executive but awkward campaigner, than his brother, who was much more gifted on the stump.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Andre Kenji says:

    @James Joyner: To be fair, Jeb! is an introvert. And few introverts manage to be elected President of the United States.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Argon says:

    @James Joyner:He was always regarded as a highly skilled politician and leader.

    Excepting for that Schiavo fiasco, and that dubious purging of voters thing, and a few other extremely questionable acts….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Joyner:

    McGovern made several tactical errors.

    1) He devoted far too much of his message to getting out of Vietnam, at a time when US casualties were dropping at a steady pace and the general public (read: everybody else who wasn’t trying to levitate the Pentagon) viewed the situation as Nixon having done an acceptable job in that regard.

    2) He essentially ceded responsibility for the booming economy of the early 1970s to the Republicans

    3) He selected possibly the worst VP running mate in history, and then badly bungled the handling of the situation when the unfortunate facts about his history of mental illness inevitably came out.

    4) He failed in any meaningful way to target or try to co-opt Nixon’s foreign policy successes (which, to be fair, were numerous).

    I tend to compare McGovern to Romney in one key way: he was the perfect candidate for an election that had already taken place – McGovern & 1968, and Romney & 1984. By the time that McGovern got nominated, his shtick was already stale and he either couldn’t or wouldn’t change course. He gave the majority of Americans no credible rationale for replacing Nixon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Note: add to the above:

    5) He pissed off organized labor, specifically George Meany, at a time when doing do was tantamount to political suicide.

    McGovern was the prototypical nice guy who just wasn’t cut out for the reality of dirty politics, and as a result essentially allowed Kevin Phillips to destroy him without ever meaningfully fighting back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Gustopher says:

    Starting the campaign 6-12 months before the first voting doesn’t seem to be serving the Republicans well. The smart Republican candidate’s strategy might be to build out his organization, do lots of fundraising, do the talk shows and lite campaigning, but basically hunker down and do minimal ad buys until after the non-candidate, obvious crazies begin to burn out.

    Last cycle, we had Cain, Bachman and a few others burn out before voting started. This cycle, they have to get through Trump, Carson and Fiorina.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. stonetools says:

    @Gustopher:

    Actually, I think Bush and Cruz are trying something like that. With Bush, because the expectations are so high, it looks like a failing, lackluster campaign. Or maybe it’s not three dimensional chess and it IS a failing, lackluster campaign.
    WE’ll find out for sure in February.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The man was a legitimate warrior in the sky. But he suffered from the weakness of the righteous – they never realize just what snakes we, er, people are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Stan says:

    @James Joyner: “At the same time, it’s virtually inconceivable that Donald Trump, much less Ben Carson, will win the Republican nomination when all’s said and done.”

    I disagree when it comes to Trump. He’s got a lock on the white working class vote and he can finance his own campaign. He had the guts to say that W didn’t keep us safe, and he’s willing to appeal to populist rage about bankers and other fat cats. He understands the appeal of a simple message, repeated over and over. He reminds me of the Depression era demagogues Alan Brinkley wrote about in Voices of Protest. He’d be a disaster as a candidate in the general election and a worse disaster as president, but it’s wishful thinking to write him off at this stage.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. rachel says:

    @Andre Kenji: North Korea did it. Oh, wait…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    True. He was a fundamentally, indeed profoundly decent man who just didn’t or wouldn’t acknowledge that most people are assholes where politics are concerned. My father still swears that the primary purpose of the changes pushed through by McGovern-Fraser was to put McGovern on the ticket in 1972, which it did.

    Ironically, we largely have him to thank for the current state of the Democratic Party. After his drubbing in 1972, every Democratic candidate since has essentially more or less been a middle of the road populist. The magnitude of McGovern’s loss pretty much walled the far-left off from any meaningful input into the selection of the Democratic presidential nominee and pushed the party back towards the center where it lives today.

    I liked his statement: “I opened the doors of the Democratic Party and 20 million people walked out.” True, but they’re slowly coming back, and we’ve essentially locked up every minority demographic for the foreseeable future as a result. All in all, not a bad showing.

    It’s one reason that I secretly hope a super far-righter actually gets the GOP nomination some day. The magnitude of his/her defeat would rival that of McGovern’s and hopefully leave the party in the same position we were in back in 1972 – adapt (read: throw your crazies under the bus before they take you down with them) or die. We need two functioning parties, and the sooner the GOP decides to turn itself back into one, the better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Rafer Janders says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    And few introverts manage to be elected President of the United States.

    That’s a bit of a myth. Obama, for one, is a famous introvert, as were Lincoln, Coolidge, Reagan and Nixon, among others. (You can be a charming and charismatic introvert — introversion is as much about whether dealing with people recharges or drains you, not about your skill with others).

    (And yes, Reagan. Many actors are secret introverts, that’s why they’re drawn to acting in the first place. And Reagan was a famously interior person who had very few close friends and confidants and always preferred spending time alone with Nancy. His public persona was just that, a persona that he put on for political effect).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. dazedandconfused says:

    It baffles me as well. The whole “JEB!” thing is about trying to skip over the B, yet candidate Exclaimationpoint allowed himself to get sucking into a twitter war with a jackass about his brother. Something’s not right.

    Humor alert only, a metaphor for JEB!’s first meeting with the Republican election machine:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxxSIX3fmmo

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. gVOR08 says:

    @dazedandconfused: As others have said, Jeb’s unpreparedness to talk about W and Iraq is a complete surprise. He’s had years and professional messaging help, and he’s got nothing. The only explanation seems to be that he’s so deep in the bubble he didn’t realize this would come up. There used to be a distinction between country club conservatives and base/cultural conservatives. I would have thought Jeb would be a CC conservative. But in my own limited exposure, it seems the country club types gleefully embraced the FOX/WSJ/Limbaugh/etc. Conservative Echo Chamber. Hence Romney walking right into, “Proceed, Governor”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. C. Clavin says:

    So now Ma and Pa Bush have called together the Bush Family faithful to strategerize about the JEB! campaign???
    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/bush-family-jeb-george-barbara-215151
    Seriously?
    How old is JEB!?
    He can’t take care of his own shit?
    Is he going to run to daddy when Clinton chews him up in a debate?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. MarkedMan says:

    The NYTimes had an article of about H.W.’s reaction to the election. Full disclosure, I didn’t vote for H.W. but always considered him a competent president. And I don’t want to read too much into this because he is 91 years old and not in the best of health. But someone pushed the story out and I’m virtually certain it was the Bush family, not someone inside the NYT. There are a number of quotes from various family members. Anyway, it was a little disorienting to hear them talking about how he sits in front of Fox News all day getting angry. They don’t seem to have any awareness that outside the right wing bubble the stereotype of a Fox News watcher is the geriatric shouting at the TV. Again, I have respect for H.W. as a president and am not commenting on him at all (lord knows I would have been happy to have my father at 90 aware enough to get angry about politics). But the Bush clan once again appears clueless as to how the rest of the world views Fox and the rest of the right wing bubble.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0