BY LUKE WATHEN
On Feb. 20, in the wake of the South Carolina republican primary, Jeb Bush released a statement that confirmed what many already believed to be true: after seven months of seeking the presidential nomination, he announced that his campaign was dead.
The road had been a long and interesting one for Bush. Initially the frontrunner for the republican nomination, he built his campaign on the traditional ideals of the party including tax cuts, a strong military and, of course, assuring the American people that he was a much better choice than Hillary Clinton.
As the campaign season continued and the GOP field became more and more cluttered, Bush’s campaign began to falter. While the media latched onto every word spoken by the likes of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, Bush got lost in the crowd of candidates.
The GOP debates did little to help Bush’s campaign as well. Whether hosted by Fox or CNN, each debate seemed to end with him being a verbal punching bag for Trump, the subject of criticism for his former protégé Marco Rubio or, worst of all, a red-headed stepchild to the moderators, more often than not ignored in favor of more popular candidates.
Still, this did not stop Bush from pushing on with his campaign, even when his poll numbers failed to reach those of his rivals. Like the little engine that could, Bush kept persevering.
It was in South Carolina that the once optimistic Bush showed that he and his campaign were growing desperate. Coming out of two disastrous finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Bush resorted to name recognition and released his secret weapon for the South Carolina primary.
The weapon in question: his older brother, George W. Bush.
When even this swayed the deeply conservative state, Jeb ultimately accepted his fate and let his campaign die, announcing a formal end to his candidacy on the same day as the primary.
Jeb Bush, for all of his faults, was a capable candidate. His tenure as governor of Florida and his impressive academic record – Bush graduated magna cum laude from University of Texas at Austin in 1973 – showing that he was by no means the buffoon that his rivals and the media often portrayed him as.
Ultimately it was the nepotism of the Bush name, the lackluster legacy of his older brother and the, frankly, predictable nature of his campaign that spelled his campaign’s demise. The attacks he received from his fellow candidates did little to bolster his support as well.
But in the end, Bush stayed true to his principles and his campaign even in the face of certain defeat. Call it tenacious or admirable, it deserves a degree of recognition.
Jeb, for what it is worth, you will always be a winner in my eyes.