Quotes of the day

Real estate mogul Donald Trump is dominating polls and capturing headlines in the Republican presidential race, but rival Jeb Bush is still the favorite of traders in political prediction markets.

While Bush has been eclipsed by Trump in opinion polls, the former Florida governor is riding high with online traders who give him a 40 percent chance to capture the party’s presidential nomination, according to prediction market aggregator PredictWise.com…

“Jeb Bush has drifted a tiny little bit, probably because of the rise of Trump, but he’s still the favorite and he’s been pretty stable,” Scott said.


Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, which to date has raised significantly more than his Republican rivals’, is encountering difficulties matching its torrid pace as Mr. Bush slips in the polls and top party donors continue to withhold their commitments.

A finance aide for Mr. Bush sent an email to contributors Friday with an invitation to a breakfast fund-raiser in Washington next month with a pointed plea that the former Florida governor’s supporters find new donors…

The email suggests that, in his initial push to raise money after announcing his candidacy in June, Mr. Bush maximized his support among backers in the Washington area capable of giving the $2,700 legally allowed, and the campaign is now eager to add wealthy donors who have previously not contributed to his campaign.


Three top Jeb Bush fundraisers abruptly parted ways with his presidential campaign on Friday, amid internal personality conflicts and questions about the strength of his candidacy, POLITICO has learned…

“They raised a lot of money out of Florida. A lot,” said the campaign source. “So if anyone says they didn’t quit, it’s not true. They’re still working for the super PAC as well. This is not about them,” said one source. “This is about the campaign.”

Donors last week told POLITICO that they still felt good about Bush’s chances and that they weren’t worried about Bush’s recent slip from second to third place in averages of national polls. As the son and brother of former presidents, the former governor of the third-most populous state in the nation has a deep and seasoned donor base. Some said they’re less concerned with the campaign than with Jeb’s candidacy, which has so far failed to ignite Republicans.


[I]t’s no surprise that this year’s presidential campaign has been as unpredictable as ever. That happens when voters feel that government isn’t working for them, and they’ve been feeling that way for nearly 10 straight years. In past elections during times of voter alienation, the unexpected happens. In 1976, the first campaign after Watergate and amid rising crime and inflation, a little-known Georgia governor (Jimmy Carter) came out of nowhere to win the Democratic nomination and the presidency. That same year, a Republican president (Gerald Ford) was nearly unseated by a conservative insurgent (Ronald Reagan) that few pundits took seriously at first. In 1992, in the middle of a recession, Democrats chose a fresh-faced Arkansas governor (Bill Clinton) while Republicans saw a populist (Pat Buchanan) threaten their president (George H.W. Bush) in early primaries—with a billionaire winning 19 percent of the vote running as a third-party candidate (Ross Perot).

Sound familiar?

This is why the expectations of a Jeb Bush-Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential election never made much sense—it couldn’t be more disconnected with voter sentiment. Bush’s candidacy still hasn’t captured the imagination of most GOP voters, and the Democrats’ unification behind a Clinton campaign was as much a reaction to the lack of younger, up-and-coming successors to Obama as it was to genuine grassroots enthusiasm for the former secretary of State. At a time when anti-Washington, antiestablishment feelings are near all-time highs, why would both parties nominate candidates with political bloodlines who’ve benefited from their family connections? All the campaign money in the world can’t change fundamental vulnerabilities. It shouldn’t be too surprising that Donald Trump—not to mention all the outsider candidates, such as Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina—are surging in national polls…

The notion that party leaders would be able to overcome the public’s distaste for political insiders was always fanciful. Republicans should know better, given the turmoil the party has faced in numerous Senate and House primaries stemming from the disaffection of the party’s grassroots towards the establishment.


Most analysts say Mr Trump has little chance of getting the GOP nomination and less chance of building a broad-based coalition to win the election. But his gravity-defying numbers — especially when viewed alongside the support for other outsiders such as Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina — point to a shift in the political mood that bodes badly for figures such as Mr Bush and Mrs Clinton.

“Republicans this year in particular have an anti-establishment, anti-politician orientation,” says Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. “And no name screams louder [establishment] than Bush.”

Mr Bush and his supporters have raised more than $100m and he remains the favourite of the GOP elite. But he has failed to excite the grassroots who view his conservatism with suspicion. He has appeared wooden on the campaign trail and has been unexpectedly gaffe-prone…

“Jeb is just boring,” says one GOP official who knows Mr Bush. “Trump has been nailing him and he hasn’t fought back.”


On some level, politics is all about the gene. John Ellis doesn’t have it. No zest. No happy warrior thing going on at all. Say what you will about Dubya, and trust me, I said most of it at one time or another. But he had the gene. He liked politics. He enjoyed campaigning. He pinned his shoulders back up on stage, stood erect, gazed upon the crowd with something you might call command…

But Jeb. Yeesh. What’s he doing out there? It’s just duty. And not family duty either. Remember, his mom said he shouldn’t do it. His wife seems cool on it. At best. So it’s not family. It’s mostly party duty. Duty to the money people. Class duty…

[N]ow that his last name is a liability, even (or especially) among GOP primary voters, he has to go out and get it, and the first step in getting it is wanting it, and he doesn’t seem to want it. In fact it looks like he dreads the thought of becoming president. Or is indifferent to it, which might be worse. Candidates have problems that they can fix. But how do you fix that problem?…

[H]e could still be the nominee, and by definition that means he could still be the next president. But as of now, he looks to have the makings of being one of the biggest flops in the history of presidential politics.


At the core, there are clashes of style, manner and class between the Bushes — a patrician clan of presidents, governors and financiers who have pulled the levers of power for generations — and Trump, a hustling New York City deal-maker who turned his father’s outer-borough real estate portfolio into a gold-plated empire.

“The Bushes were never Trump’s cup of tea,” said Roger Stone, a longtime confidant and former adviser to Trump. Asked why the Bushes often have kept Trump at arm’s length, he said: “He’s not from old, WASP money. The Trumps didn’t come on the Mayflower.”…

But Trump reserves particular, personal ire for Jeb Bush, whose first name he commonly mocks by drawing it out in a slight drawl. One Trump associate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly, said of Trump: “He’s very smart, he’s driven and he has two goals: one, to be elected president, and two, to have Jeb not be president.”

And back to Jeb: “He’s not up to snuff. . . . Jeb is never going to bring us to the promised land. He can’t.”


“We have to restore America’s greatness by fixing the things that make it hard for people to rise up in this country,” Bush said.

“Restore America’s greatness”? The casually deployed swear word? At one point, Bush even railed against the dangers of “political correctness.” The signs all read “Jeb!” but Donald Trump was an undeniable presence at Bush’s town hall in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia…

“Here’s a guy, larger than life, it’s all about him. I wake up thinking, ‘Wow, people are really struggling, suffering,’” Bush said. “That’s what I focus on, that’s what I think about, how do we make sure that people can be lifted up. For him, it’s all about him. But he’s tapped into, because he’s so different than people in public life, he’s tapped into this anger and angst that Washington’s not working. Totally get it, and I respect the fact that, look, this guy’s the frontrunner. He should be treated like a frontrunner, not like some kind of alternative universe to the political system.”

It was a call for the media and voters to take serious Trump’s deviations from the GOP and lack of a conservative record. But even Bush himself is treating the Donald like the frontrunner. The New York Times reported last week the former Florida governor has entered a “new, more combative phase of his campaign” as Trump’s rise in the polls has not abated. “There’s a big difference between Donald Trump and me,” Bush said in New Hampshire last week, according to the Times. “I’m a proven conservative with a record. He isn’t.”


Trump’s attack on Jeb isn’t mostly about issues. As with most things Trump, it’s mostly about persona. The Donald thinks Jeb is a dud. “He’s a man that doesn’t want to be doing what he’s doing,” Trump said in June. “I call him the reluctant warrior, and warrior’s probably not a good word. I think Bush is an unhappy person. I don’t think he has any energy.”…

Trump must expect Jeb to find his dehumanization of illegal immigrants repulsive. But like any good bully, he can smell fear. He knows that Jeb, like most of the other Republican presidential candidates, fears the animal spirits he has awoken inside the GOP base. And so he’s virtually dared Jeb to double down on what he really believes. Asked this week about Jeb’s trip to a town near the Mexican border, Trump quipped that “he’ll now find out that it is not an act of love … I think he’ll probably be able to figure that out, maybe.”

It was a test: not of Jeb’s views on immigration, but of his character. A test of whether, when challenged on a subject close to his heart, the former Florida governor can show “energy.” Whether he can show he really is a “warrior.”…

Late last year, Jeb said a Republican presidential candidate should be willing to “lose the primary” in order to avoid “violating your principles.” Donald Trump is now testing that pledge. He’s assaulting the people Jeb loves to see if Jeb has the “energy” to fight for them, consequences be damned. And Jeb is replying by calling Trump’s demagoguery “unrealistic.”


Mr. Trump has called Mr. Bush’s immigration plans “baby stuff” and his education policy “pathetic.” He has expressed mock sympathy for Mr. Bush’s audiences, who he says must be so bored that “they’re sleeping.” Over the weekend, Mr. Trump even poked fun at a new Bush campaign advertisement that inadvertently rendered his left hand many shades darker than his right…

After enduring those slings and arrows for weeks, to the mounting dismay of supporters, Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, and his aides have decided to venture outside their comfort zone and borrow a page from Mr. Trump’s playbook: Hit back, with force and creativity, over and over again in the coming weeks

The change in Mr. Bush’s tone is a calculated strategy, interviews show, with two different but crucial aims now that Mr. Trump is proving to be a long-term obstacle, not a passing nuisance: to dilute Mr. Trump’s right-wing support by proving that he is not a genuine conservative and to show a wary Republican Party that Mr. Bush is enough of a street fighter to survive a nasty nomination contest…

He added, “The longer they let Trump do all of the talking, the greater the risk was that those criticisms could sink in with voters.”


Donors have invested tens of millions of dollars in his campaign, and many of them must, by now, be getting uneasy. If the uneasiness intensifies, the flow of checks will slow. Every campaign runs on money, but Jeb Bush’s more than most. He’s hoping through sheer staying power to impose his nomination on a recalcitrant party. The money buys the staying power. If the money dwindles, his fortunes fall hostage to the Republicans of the early states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, none of them a promising Jeb Bush firewall…

Bush’s trouble is that he doesn’t have the clout to push the other donor-acceptable alternatives out of the race. Real-world politicians quit when they see they can’t win, and except for Rick Perry and George Pataki, none of the donor-acceptable alternatives will look at today’s polls and think, “I can’t win.” So Carly Fiorina and John Kasich and Marco Rubio and Scott Walker will linger in the race, subdividing the big money and waiting to pounce on any Jeb Bush misstep or defeat. Bobby Jindal will hang on too—what has he got to lose?…

The second reason Bush shouldn’t fight Trump: Even if Bush wins, he’ll lose. Jeb Bush is a candidate with many points of vulnerability: personal, familial, financial. Most of Jeb Bush’s Republican rivals will be reluctant to broach these issues in any but the most elliptical way. The norms of American media will inhibit journalists from reporting on them. If Bush can win the nomination, he can rely on the threat of mutually assured destruction to deter the equally vulnerable Hillary Clinton from pressing very hard.

But Trump is not playing by the usual rules. Show Trump a line, and he’ll cross it. He has crossed it. And Jeb Bush is a candidate who needs lines respected almost more than any other.


[I]f I were counseling Bush at this early stage of the campaign, I’d tell him to get ahold of himself already. Forget about Trump. His base, an unstable amalgam of celebrity worship and general contempt, represents a modest plurality of voters who were always going to go somewhere else.

In the language of social media, Trump is just trolling Bush by singling him out as a “low-energy person” and posting clever videos of his mother. It’s not really a race between them, and the more Bush behaves like it is, the further he is from righting his campaign.

What Jeb has to worry about is the much broader (though not as loud) segment of Republican voters who are looking for a credible, electable, governing nominee — and who appear to be underwhelmed with this “anchor baby” business. He should worry more about a guy like John Kasich, who didn’t waste time grandstanding at the Mexican border, and who isn’t afraid to disagree with some of the party’s reactionary elements if he comes away sounding more presidential as a result.

You’re a Bush. You’re supposed to be the candidate of the much-maligned, level-headed establishment. It’s time to start acting like it.


Considering these massive advantages, Jeb viewed the primary race as a formality to endure until he faced his friendly rival Hillary late next summer. Considering himself the most conservative Bush family member, the aggressively pro-life and pro-school choice Florida governor tacked sharply to the center two years before the general election. Having sat on the sidelines for the entire Obama era, Bush had completely lost touch with his own party…

The issue with Jeb isn’t that he’s the choice of the reviled GOP establishment, but that he doesn’t realize the establishment is reviled. It’s not that Jeb’s political skills are rusty, but that, despite all his missteps, he still doesn’t realize he’s a decade out of step. It’s not that Jeb was blindsided by the Trump phenomenon, but that he is unable to adapt to the unexpected.

Jeb seems like a nice man. He had an excellent tenure as governor many years ago. But it’s obvious that his heart is not in this race, he doesn’t understand our Alinskyite political climate, and he is confused by both his base and modern media. The longer he vies for the nomination, the more he hurts himself and the GOP.

For the good of his country and his party, Bush needs to sit 2016 out.



Via RCP.

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