Riley Gregg, 6, left, sits with her twin sister Reagan, right, as Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush arrives to speak at a rally at Summerville Country Club in Summerville, S.C., Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Jeb Bush, RIP (campaign-wise at least)

I don’t know how many times I’ve started a piece saying how much I like and respect Jeb Bush. I do. But at this point, I have started chuckling at every mismanaged and awkward encounter with voters on the campaign trail. I like the guy, I have been embarrassed for the guy, and now I’m just laughing at the whole farce of his campaign.

Bush worked so hard to tie it all up, lock up donors, force Rubio to stand down, and claim front runner status then screwed it all up.

First, his campaign badly misjudged the mood of the electorate. Then, his campaign started stumbling and bumbling. Then his campaign had to have Jeb’s mom and brother come rescue him. Yesterday, voters at his town hall meeting began using a Q&A session to tell Jeb how to fix his campaign.

I know some people will say I should have been gracious and held this until the polls close on Saturday. I probably should have. But his campaign does not really deserve grace at this point. It deserves a garbage bag with a brick in it over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

I understand campaigns have egos. What has always struck me about Jeb Bush is how humble the guy is behind the scenes — something he does not really have to be given his family pedigree and background. But he is just a wonderfully decent guy. Unfortunately, we saw him up against his brother the other day and realized how much better a retail politician his brother is and how much more enthusiasm people have for W.

Seeing Jeb Bush decide to stay in the race after everything so far, including New Hampshire, which was not a win but a hugely expensive loss, leaves me convinced Bush has been placed on a river facing a Potemkin village of polling and success. I like to believe that because if he really is aware of his standing, polling, and campaign perform and still thinks it is worth soldiering on, he is living in DSM-5 territory.

Regardless, his campaign is dead, South Carolina will not revive it, and he needs to show grace and walk away. The guy is clearly miserable on the trail. He clearly now recognizes he is going nowhere at all. It is painful to watch.

The one and only good samaritan thing Jeb Bush could do now is drop out of the race today, force it to shake up, and force further consolidation against Trump. But seeing what we have seen so far, I will not hold my breath.

Here lies the campaign of Governor Jeb Bush. People once referred to him as the “smart Bush.” Now they won’t even make eye contact with what his campaign has become.

About the author

Erick Erickson

View all posts