Out of cash, out of momentum, and out of time, it’s now inevitable that Bush will be out of the race. All that’s left is the death certificate of an announcement.
But to whom will Bush pledge his support, if to anyone? And can he do it honorably before Saturday?
If Bush dropped out today, he could play kingmaker in South Carolina, propelling either Rubio or Cruz to a possible win. It would be a great prize for either of them.
But candidates prefer to get out with honor, with a “last stand” mentality. So says Dan McLaughlin.
The desire to go out on a high note, or at least to feel like you gave it everything you had and didn’t walk away prematurely, can lead to some counterintuitive dynamics. It can be easier to walk away after a vaguely respectable showing than a terrible one – thus, Christie and Rand Paul were a bit quicker to let go after New Hampshire and Iowa, respectively, than were Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum. Santorum followed Iowa by announcing a bus tour of South Carolina, which was then scrapped a few days later; Fiorina was insisting she was in it for the long haul only hours before dropping out.
You’d think Jeb would jump at the chance to get out and stop Trump at the same time. Like Captain Ahab with Moby Dick, to “spit my last breath at thee.” Yet he’s got a problem.
After spending millions disparaging his previous protege Marco Rubio, how can he now pledge his support for him and make that seem in the least bit honest? And with the seemingly genuine personal dislike George W. Bush has for Ted Cruz, how can Jeb pledge his support to Cruz? It’s a conundrum.
But that’s the problem Jeb faces. Getting out now and giving his support to, say, Kasich is a useless and futile gesture which will leave him a laughingstock forever. Getting out with no endorsement before South Carolina is quitting.
So Bush soldiers on, defrauding his supporters, keeping a soon-to-be-unpaid staff around, and running a sham of a campaign just to assuage his ego and please his family.
The best thing he could do is admit it, honorably stand behind one of the two conservatives who can stand against Trump, and leave it all on the field as a conservative, not a candidate. That’s the honorable thing to do.