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Why Is Bush Still in the Race?

Jay Cost doesn’t like [1] that Jeb Bush is staying in the race:

That is what makes the play so objectionable: the Bush campaign is trying to set up a race against Trump that the Bush campaign has no good reason to think Bush can win. And the odds are that all the Bush campaign will achieve is making more likely the calamitous nomination of Donald Trump. Yet Bush is determined to try to force a final showdown between him and Trump by dumping $20 million (so far) in negative ads against manifestly superior candidates.

It’s true that Bush’s determination to stay in the race (and to take Rubio down in the process) makes it easier for Trump, but frankly the same could be said of any of the other “establishment” candidates. They are all conspiring in their own defeat, and any one of them is just as responsible for that as the others. Bush’s favorability numbers are poor, but then so are Kasich’s and Christie’s, so if they were primarily interested in stopping Trump all of them should have dropped out months ago. Kasich and Christie have poor or non-existent campaign organizations, and Rubio’s is not that much better, so Bush could reasonably think that he has the best chance to scale up his campaign to compete across multiple states in a way that the others can’t.

The trouble is that all of them wrongly believe [2] they have the luxury of time, and they are encouraged in this by pundits that keep insisting that the race will be a long, drawn-out affair. Never mind that many of the pundits saying this are obviously in Rubio’s corner [3]. The other “establishment” candidates hear these arguments and seem to believe them as well. Each of them looks around at his rivals and thinks, “Why not me?” The persistence of the Rubio fantasy gives them encouragement that one of the other “establishment” candidates might play the role that Rubio is supposed to fill.

If the delegate race is going to be the long slog that Rubio needs it to be, Bush has just as much incentive to delay his withdrawal from the race as Rubio does. Maybe Rubio has a better chance than Bush, but at the moment the senator’s “manifest superiority” is not manifesting itself. If it had, he probably wouldn’t be trailing Kasich in New Hampshire [4] and barely hanging on to third place in South Carolina [5]. Looking ahead to Florida [6] doesn’t help the argument for Rubio or Bush, since both of them trail Trump and Cruz badly in their own state.

Like the dynastic candidate he is, Bush believes he was entitled to deference from his fellow Floridian, and he and his allies resent Rubio for having the audacity to get into the race. Presumably they blame Rubio for taking away support they think Bush would have had, and they see him as an ingrate who needs to be taught a lesson. They are also probably convinced by the argument that “establishment” candidates will fare better in states that vote later in the spring, so they don’t think there is any need for them to abandon the race. Bush and his allies are still working off of a theory of the race that is already being proved wrong right now, but they have committed themselves to it this far and they probably aren’t going to give up before Rubio does.

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19 Comments To "Why Is Bush Still in the Race?"

#1 Comment By DobermanBoston On January 27, 2016 @ 11:30 am

The complete ineffectiveness of Jeb the candidate (and Jeb! the campaign) is one of the main reasons for the distortions we are seeing in this GOP primary. It is the most profound example of how flawed and polyann-ish the “more the merrier/deep bench” mindset was.

#2 Comment By Hersh On January 27, 2016 @ 11:41 am

The website [7] has been doing analysis of the revisions to nomination rules that the GOP put in place to rig the nomination for Bush even if he did poorly in early contests. So, yes, Bush and his people do believe the fix is still in for him even though Trump’s upended everything.

But why did they want Bush? That family has been a disaster for the Republican Party, the nation and the world.

#3 Comment By Jason C. On January 27, 2016 @ 11:42 am

We have statewide judicial elections to the Supreme Court of Texas. One year, five attorneys ran for a spot; three were sitting state court of appeals judges. The other two were a sitting state district judge and a random lawyer. What happened? The state district judge got elected because the sitting appellate judges each got 20% (roughly corresponding to support from their hometown areas), so the district judge just had to beat the random lawyer, which she handily did.

Result? She’s pretty terrible. But that’s what happens when you have three or ten of the same candidate whose egos won’t get out of the way. You end up with one of the goofballs at either end of the spectrum getting elected.

#4 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 27, 2016 @ 11:58 am

Whatever my affinity for the Bush family. The squabble between Gov. Bush and Sen. Rubio regardless of how it was resolved or will be has very little bearing on the race. It is the policy advances they make and support that is my problem.

In my case if either dropped out today or had done so last month or ten months ago. The positions they hold would not be more palatable.

I was hoping that Gov. Bush would have offered a different leadership. And he could have done so without maligning his brother.

#5 Comment By MikeCLT On January 27, 2016 @ 12:25 pm

iJeb! still thinks that running on the fact that he likes Mexicans more than Americans is a winner. Go figure.

#6 Comment By collin On January 27, 2016 @ 12:30 pm

Well somebody has to win the Republican nomination in 2016! The fall of Jeb! really is not that surprising as he has not run a campaign in 13+ years and his “Undercover Boss” leadership has not understood how much the country crashed during his brother second term. I have no idea how following the same issues of Bush ’04 made any sense for Jeb! 2016. I always figured that Republicans gave him a load of money to see if he could win or if he did end up losing to Walker (who burnt out) or Rubio (who is not popular), then the winner could claim not be Bush a little louder. The strategy was completely Trumped and basically Donald got to use his Don Rickles quality insults towards easy target Jeb! on Twitter.

#7 Comment By Uncle Billy On January 27, 2016 @ 1:06 pm

If Jeb Bush had a different last name, would he even be a viable candidate? The Bushes are not the US royal family and neither are the Clintons. I understand that Jeb’s son George P. Bush is already being groomed for high office. The Bushes are like zombies; they just keep coming, they cannot be stopped. Eventually, another Bush, perhaps George P. will win the White House. God help us.

#8 Comment By Kurt Gayle On January 27, 2016 @ 1:32 pm

“Why Is Bush Still in the Race?”

It could be the same reason why many of Bush’s Republican establishment supporters are still at the mall — too much money.

#9 Comment By Hyperion On January 27, 2016 @ 1:35 pm

A new poll out today states that he is now second in NH. Why I can’t imagine.

#10 Comment By DobermanBoston On January 27, 2016 @ 1:42 pm

It could be the same reason why many of Bush’s Republican establishment supporters are still at the mall — too much money.

Man, are they determined to burn it though.

It’s like the Leaving Las Vegas of presidential campaigns.

#11 Comment By The Other Eric On January 27, 2016 @ 1:50 pm

3 hypotheticals
1 Opposition research has always known that Trump was more beta boy than alpha male.
2 Internal analysts believe that Cruz is not a Natural Born Citizen.
3 Carson continues to show that he is a nutcase

If these are true, the race is wide open with Rubio around 11, Bush and Cristie in the single digits and 70% of the electorate still open

#12 Comment By sps On January 27, 2016 @ 2:22 pm

“Like the dynastic candidate he is, Bush believes he was entitled to deference from his fellow Floridian, and he and his allies resent Rubio for having the audacity to get into the race. Presumably they blame Rubio for taking away support they think Bush would have had, and they see him as an ingrate who needs to be taught a lesson.”

The “ingrate” charge is the sense in the Bush family that without Bush, Rubio would just be another Cuban Republican politician from Miami. Rubio rose to power in the Florida legislature, far further than his fellow Cubans ever did because of Bush’s patronage, his determination to diversify the party. And with Bush’s support, Rubio won the party nomination for the U.S. Senate and the election in 2010. And how does Rubio repay him? By sabotaging the Bush family’s entitlement to the White House.

Maybe that’s why Rubio ran in the first, this campaign without a purpose as you so claim. Maybe he resented being the Family’s house Cuban and felt he needed so sit-down with Jeb to work this all out. Certainly their could have been a purpose to the Rubio campaign, as the New Model Republican/New Republican Man of the 21st Century. But that was before The Donald turned the campaign into a version of the “Grand Torino”. Rubio had to abandon the campaign he wanted to run and is stuck between Trump, Cruz, a fellow ethnic politican just as ambitious as he is, and a vengenful Bush family looking at the very least to be running just to take him down. How he wins in that vise that is anyone’s guess.

#13 Comment By CDK On January 27, 2016 @ 2:56 pm

I worry about situations like this. The establishment, I suspect, is preparing much more aggressive means to force Trump out of the race. It’s not as if the media is above completely manufacturing scandals against perceived cultural enemies, something we’ve seen repeatedly over the last few years. How hard would it be to find a few of Trump’s ex-paramours willing to accuse him of prostitution or rape? Or business partners/enemies willing to accuse him of fraud? But timing is everything; it has to fall like an avalanche, with cumulative media attacks coordinated all at once: “Trump Refuses to Answer Questions About Accusations of Serial Rape”. Such a headline would be repeated, endlessly. If National Review can coordinate a “hit job”, certainly the rest of the establishment media can.

The interesting part comes if such an attack backfires, as the NR piece did. At that point I would look for deep state shenanigans, including trumped-up criminal investigations, to be followed if need be by attacks on his money (“Trump Violates Campaign Finance Regulations, says FEC”).
Finally come the back-channel threats against his family and his life, which ended the outsider campaigns of Perot and Wallace.

If one looks at Trump’s candidacy in this way, then the behavior of establishment candidates becomes more understandable. However, what if it doesn’t happen that way? If Trump sticks it out and evades the attacks, look for outright assassination attempts by “lone madmen” not far into his presidency. These will be accompanied by immediate impeachment threats and various other official investigations. The Federal Reserve will suddenly rediscover their supposed duties and raise interest rates, crashing the market and the economy. Trump will thus be racing the Wall Street crowd, the DC bureaucracy, and possibly his own cabinet to see which side can destroy the other first, with the media baying for his blood the whole time. In other words, it’ll be like Nixon all over again.

The problem, then, isn’t that Trump is a populist fascist with “strongman overtones”; the problem is he will HAVE to be just to survive and be effective. Despite the Left’s fears, I just don’t see him doing that. As they say in Vegas, the house always wins. Trump, above all others, should know that.

#14 Comment By Fran Macadam On January 27, 2016 @ 3:12 pm

“But why did they want Bush? That family has been a disaster for the Republican Party, the nation and the world.”

We have St. Ron’s triangulating and equivocating advisers to blame for that. We should have had Jack Kemp. For the Bush dynasty, the Vice Presidency has been worth far more than a pitcher of warm spit, as John Nance Garner had it, but as to their worth to the country…would that Biblically speaking, we would follow the advice, “because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

#15 Comment By Steven On January 27, 2016 @ 3:31 pm

CDK: In normal times I wouldn’t doubt you a bit. All it took was one slightly unhinged “hyaaaah!!” and Howard Dean was out of the race before he left the building. Trump just this week crowed that he could shoot someone and still gain votes. I don’t think even a Sen. Pat Geary frame job like in Godfather II would derail him at this point.

#16 Comment By kindness On January 27, 2016 @ 3:44 pm

Why is Bush still in the race?

That grift won’t donate itself ya know.

#17 Comment By Grumpy Old Man On January 27, 2016 @ 6:21 pm

15% advertising commission on $100 million is $15M. The money’s there. Would any consultant give up his commission?

#18 Comment By XGeoff On January 27, 2016 @ 6:41 pm

I totally tuned out Jeb when he tried to defend his brother’s Presidency. I think he would have been better off throwing his big bro under the bus. I guess I’d give him points for family loyalty, but that’s not enough for me to want him in the White House.

#19 Comment By jk On January 29, 2016 @ 7:15 am

Why is he in the race still?

As like other neocons, Bush feels obligated to burn other people’s money for big, costly, and unrealistic projects.