But, early on, it became clear that Bush wasn’t just rusty at this campaign thing, he simply wasn’t all that good at it. It also became clear that Bush was badly miscast for an election cycle in which the Republican base wanted anger from its candidates. The rise of Donald Trump — and his relentless attacks on Bush as a “low-energy person” — only served to highlight the disconnect between Bush and his party’s base.
Last night, as he has throughout the campaign, Bush painted a picture of a complex world — from the Middle East to here at home. His answers to questions were larded with detail and complexity. On Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the country, for example, he was measured and thoughtful; “every time we send signals like this, we send a signal of weakness, not strength,” Bush said.
For almost every one of those answers, the crowd, which was not pro-Trump by any means, greeted Bush’s response with polite applause. You could almost imagine them leaning over to their friend in the crowd and saying: “Jeb’s so nice. And so smart.” Of course, they also almost certainly won’t vote for him.