For the past few months, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has struggled with low poll numbers and dwindling support in the Republican presidential primary. His poor performance at the recent CNBC debate put his campaign on life support.
While Donald Trump and Ben Carson continue to lead the field, a recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Jeb Bush plummeting to a mere 4 percent support among Republicans. To add insult to injury, only 25 percent hold a positive view of Bush, while 58 percent have a negative view.
Top Bush donors likely suffered massive heart attacks after witnessing his mundane and mediocre performance at the debate. His attempt to criticize Marco Rubio for missing votes in the Senate backfired. Bush pointed out that Rubio has missed 34 percent of Senate votes and “should be showing up to work.”
Rubio questioned why Bush suddenly started criticizing him. “The only reason you are doing it now,” Rubio said, “is because we’re running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.” For comparison, President Obama missed 64 percent of votes in 2008 while running for president.
CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla asked the candidates if the federal government should treat fantasy sports as gambling and begin regulating the industry. Bush responded that the government should regulate virtual games such as fantasy football and equated it to “day trading without any regulation at all.”
Chris Christie gave a much different response: “we have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and Al Qaeda attacking us, and we’re talking about fantasy football?” The CNBC debate was supposed to center around crucial economic issues. Jeb’s tendency to entertain even the most ridiculous questions from the media does not sit well with the Republican base.
Despite a series of poor debate performances and plummeting poll numbers, Bush still has several key advantages over his opponents. Most other GOP candidates can only dream of attaining Bush’s campaign infrastructure and vast network of donors. According to F.E.C. filings, he has raised substantially more money than any other candidate. Bush’s campaign and groups supporting him have reported over $120 million in campaign contributions.
Comparatively, Hillary Clinton and her supporters have raised a total of $67.8 million. Of the GOP candidates, Ted Cruz comes in second place with donors filing $52.7 million in campaign contributions.
Bush also boasts a shining resume as governor of Florida. During his tenure, he vetoed $2 billion in new spending, balanced the state budget, and saved Florida taxpayers $19 billion through several tax cuts. The Florida economy grew an average of 4.4 percent every year and added 1.3 million new jobs. No other candidate, Republican or Democrat, can boast such a strong track record of accomplishments.
Bush’s lack of charisma and second-rate debate performances are not living up to his abundance of campaign resources and political capital. In order to defeat Hillary Clinton next November, Republicans must not only nominate an intelligent, articulate candidate with a record of success, but a charismatic leader.
To his credit, Donald Trump’s most accurate assertion this campaign season is that “Jeb is a very low energy person.” To resurrect his campaign and revive momentum Bush must perform exceptionally well at the next debate and inject new energy into his campaign.