Horowitz: Jeb Bush - A Class Act Leaves the Race

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

 

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Rob Horowitz

On Saturday night, in the wake of his distant 4th place finish in South Carolina, Jeb Bush gracefully withdrew from the Presidential race.  The former Florida Governor recognized that if he couldn’t do better than 8% of the vote in a State that has been good over the years to his family and where his brother, former President George W. Bush, who campaigned with him earlier in the week, remains very popular, it was time to end his candidacy.

“I’m proud of the campaign we ran to unify our country, and to advocate conservative solutions,” said Jeb Bush. ”But the people of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken. Tonight I am suspending my campaign.”

While the second-guessing of the decisions made by Jeb Bush and his campaign team and  the critiques of his deficiencies as a candidate were a feature of primary night coverage and continued in Sunday’s public affairs shows and newspapers, his candidacy’s failure to take-off was  primarily a result of his last name.

In a year when Republican primary voters want big changes from the status quo, seem to view any compromise as a sell out and where they more frown upon government experience than view it as an asset,  attempting to be the third member of the Bush family to become President was simply too big a hurdle to overcome. Despite the return of much personal affection for George W. Bush as memories of his Presidency begin to fade into history, Republican primary voters very ,much want to turn the page and through no fault of his own, to most primary voters,  Jeb Bush represented the past..

Further, Jeb Bush’s principled positions in favor of a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants and Common Core Education Standards put him on the unpopular side of two issues of major importance to Republican primary voters. As Jeb Bush correctly pointed out Saturday night, “I have stood my ground, refusing to bend to the political winds.”  He paid the political price.

Neither Bush’s strong record of actual accomplishments as a two term Florida Governor, including cutting taxes and raising educational performance nor his detailed and mainly thoughtful conservative policy proposals made much of an impression on a primary electorate that was highly skeptical of electing another Bush.

Initially rusty from being out of politics for the past 8 years and sometimes uncertain, Jeb Bush found his voice as the campaign proceeded. He strongly opposed Donald Trump’s ill-advised and Un-American proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, despite the fact that it was supported by an overwhelming majority of Republican primary voters. And he remained vocal about his opposition to Trump’s absurd and impractical proposal to deport the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants presently in the nation.  Bush did not back off his strong belief that immigration makes America a stronger--not a weaker--country.

Jeb Bush was simply out of step from the mood of the primary electorate.  He leaves the race the same way he entered it: a class act and a distinguished public servant.   Bush understands something than Donald Trump never will—that there are more important things than whether you win or lose , including acting with character and integrity. And that Jeb Bush certainly did.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.

 

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