Slow and steady wins the race, or not? Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s “tortoise-and-the-hare” campaign tactic didn’t really work out … at all. From the moment he announced his campaign in June 2015 to the second he dropped out last week, he never polled at more than 18 percent, but for some odd reason, he kept trying.
“In this campaign, I’ve stood my ground refusing to bend to the political winds,” Bush said after his tragic fourth place finish in the South Carolina primary Saturday, “because despite what you might have heard, ideas matter … policy matters.”
After eight months of strange campaign ads, terrible debates and painfully awkward photos, here are some of my favorite Jeb moments.
First, his campaign slogan: “Jeb!” We probably should have known from the lack of innovation in this statement that his campaign was doomed from the start. I am not a big fan of “Make America Great Again,” but at least it has some substance. Bush’s slogan is literally just his name, but not even his real name — probably because “John Ellis Bush!” didn’t fit on the poster. Not even an exclamation point could make Jeb Bush sound exciting, and his time as a presidential candidate was as forced as his punctuation.
Second is his mom. Barbara Bush remained quiet for most of Jeb’s campaign, following his wish to build a legacy apart from that of his family. However, when things started looking bad for Jeb, the former first lady stepped in.
“Of all the people running, he seems to be the one who can solve the problems,” she said in a campaign video. “I think he’ll be a great president.”
I am going to blame this one on the campaign managers. Who told Jeb it was a good idea to have his mom endorse him? His low-energy campaign was already being criticized by his fellow candidates, especially Trump, but having his mom say he knows what he’s doing made it worse. Jeb had an underlying disadvantage from the start. Sure, his family has political experience and plenty of rich donor friends, but this meant his whole campaign was a series of, “What are you going to do differently?” questions.
Even his mom had her doubts about having another Bush in office. “We’ve had enough Bushes,” she said before her son announced his presidency. I think in this case, mother really does know best.
Probably the worst part of Jeb Bush’s campaign was that he really did have potential. He had the backing of the super PAC Right to Rise as well as donations totaling more than $100 million, but he could have effectively separated himself from his brother by voicing his opinion on the Iraq War — something he tried again and again, but failed to do. Jeb also could have used Trump’s attacks on him to his advantage, taking the momentum to turn voters against the “out-of-touch rich guy,” but instead he chose to ignore the attacks, solidifying his low-energy campaign.
Overall, his campaign was definitely one of the worst. He managed to lower expectations again and again, and he ruined what on paper looked like a solid race for the presidency. Yet he dropped out gracefully and humbly, thanking the United States for its support. Despite it all, he did one thing right — he stepped down in time and spared us from yet another Bush presidency.