What Should Jeb Do?
If there have been any questions about Jeb Bush’s view of his right to become President, these doubts should be vanishing. Bush entered the race as the presumptive nominee, someone who just had to act Presidential, raise a lot of money, and wait until crowned at the convention. At the time this did not seem that unusual given the declared and rumored potential candidates. Oh, how differently it has turned out.
Bush like Scott Walker hired expensive staffs and set up elaborate fund raising apparatus (which also cost a lot of money) and went to work creating policy positions. Bush chose to distinguish himself by telling anyone who would listen, “I’m the only true conservative in the field”. Hmmm, what does that mean?
The “most conservative label” appeals only to a precious few and has a lasting value of just the Republican primary. In the general election, it is more about specific policies on specific issues. A “real conservative” position on women’s rights, gay issues, immigration reform, taxes, healthcare, Social Security, and the wide list of entitlements will drive the election outcome.
As Bush has rolled out his policy positions, it should be clear that Jeb has set up a losing hand.
Beyond the policy substance, Jeb has been confounded by the apparent appeal of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, both of whom have not bothered to speak definitively about policy. Both candidates have caught the eye of early GOP voters and have left Jeb in their dust. Bush seems genuinely disgusted with the popular response and acts as if he thinks the electorate is too dumb to recognize that he is the better candidate (if not the only legitimate one).
So what should Jeb do now that he is running out of money and must reduce his staff?
Of all the “missing the moment” things Jeb could do, he has picked probably the most tone deaf one, he is meeting this weekend with his Mom and Dad and brother George W to discuss next moves. Would Donald Trump do that? Would Ben Carson do that? What would a President Jeb Bush do in a national crisis? Hmmm.
The most cost efficient step would be for Jeb to abandon his run and give back any residual funds to his supporters. Jeb Bush has a losing policy platform and a persona completely out of line with the electorate. Why waste time and money?
If Mom and Dad, and “W” were to provide advice, other than retiring, it might be to keep his head down and his mouth shut. Trump and Carson have no credentials to become President and sooner or later will be shown to be paper thin on policies. That’s 50% of the vote. As these candidates fade, others will rise. The only long shot position for Jeb is to appear, among the others, the best option in a wounded field.
This means Jeb needs to dial back his “I know it all” policy making positions and if cornered, boast about his experience (Governor), his maturity (his age), and stability (family centered values). And then Jeb should cross his fingers and hope that Carly Fiorina fades faster, that Marco Rubio stumbles under the pressure of almost winning, and John Kasich just doesn’t connect.
In my opinion, Marco Rubio and John Kasich are the two most likely nominees. Rubio will sell his energy and relative younger age while Kasich will lean on his wider experience than Bush and his much more forceful presence.
This weekend, Jeb will probably mumble, “you were right Mom, I shouldn’t have run.”