Jeb Bush Drops Out of Presidential Race
From the New York Times:
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Jeb Bush dropped out of the presidential race on Saturday, ending a quest for the White House that started with a war chest of $100 million, a famous name and a promise of political civility, but ended with a humbling recognition: in 2016, none of it mattered.
“I’m proud of the campaign that we’ve run to unify our country,” he said in an emotional speech from Columbia, S.C., Saturday night after his third straight disappointing finish in the early voting states. “The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken and I really respect their decision.”
No single candidacy this year fell so monumentally short of its original expectations. It began with an aura of inevitability that masked deep problems, from Mr. Bush himself, a clunky candidate in a field of gifted performers, to the rightward drift of the Republican Party since Mr. Bush’s time as a consensus conservative in Florida.
Mr. Bush’s campaign had rested on a set of assumptions that, one by one, turned out to be flatly incorrect: that the Republican primaries would turn on a record of accomplishment in government; that Mr. Bush’s cerebral and reserved style would be an asset; and that a country wary of dynasties would evaluate this member of the Bush family on his own merits. …
After promising to conduct a “joyful” campaign, Mr. Bush instead found himself locked in an ugly and dejected slog, under gleeful attack from his rivals and heightened scrutiny from the political world he had thought was rooting for him.
In a painful twist of the knife, Mr. Bush was overtaken by his former political protégé, Senator Marco Rubio, whose career he had nurtured in Florida.
But by far his biggest liability, aides and advisers concede, was a pedigree he could do nothing to erase or dilute: he was a Bush through and through, at a time when voters despised the political and economic establishment that his family name embodies. …
Financial muscle, rather than a lucid message, became the hallmark of Mr. Bush’s political operation. It snatched up marque consultants and policy advisers. It set up camps across the early states, promising a national operation. It created elaborate, three-dimensional mailers. And it spoke of a “shock and awe” factor intended to spook potential rivals.
Both the campaign and the super PAC supporting it relied heavily on expensive television commercials that never broke through. The ads became a cautionary tale for how little impact such media could have in a raucous and colorful field dominated by Mr. Trump, who boasted of saturating the news so thoroughly that he did not need to pay for many ads.
Aides kept promising donors and supporters that victory was in sight. But the polls never caught up with the assurances. Over the past few weeks, especially, everything seemed to go wrong for Mr. Bush.
With his prospects dimming, even standard practices in politics, such as relentlessly attacking his rivals, seemed to backfire. When his super PAC intensified its spending on advertising critical of Mr. Rubio, in an attempt to prop up Mr. Bush’s flagging campaign, party elders cried foul, saying it looked like sour grapes.
His once-intimidating financial might evaporated. The smaller donations required to pay the bills of his campaign started to dry up, forcing the campaign to make cuts and dispatch its central staff to the campaign trail. …
Mr. Bush liked to explain that the boldfaced exclamation point emblazoned on all of his campaign posters “connotes excitement.”
The problem was that Mr. Bush himself never managed to deliver on that promise.