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News Wednesday, Aug 19 2015

Jeb Bush: Shock-And-Zzzzzz…

Aug 19, 2015

Vox: Donald Trump exposes Jeb Bush’s problem: The GOP doesn’t want a bland political insider

By Jonathan Allen, 8/19/15

Jeb Bush planned to win the Republican primary with a shock-and-awe strategy. Instead, it’s been a shocking fall for the onetime GOP front-runner.

He started the campaign with the most famous name in Republican politics, a $100 million-plus stake and clear, if underwhelming, favorite status in early polling. But Bush has fallen fastest and farthest against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s rise.

Bush prides himself on telling them what he thinks they need to hear, especially when they disagree with him. Rather than winning credit for sticking to his guns, Bush has alienated large portions of the Republican electorate.

Conservatives don’t trust him, he isn’t unifying the establishment, he’s bland on the trail, and, next to Trump, Bush seems like the consummate political insider. As a result, it’s getting harder to see how he would build a coalition to win the nomination.

In three CNN/ORC polls conducted since Trump’s entry into the race, Bush has dropped from 19 percent to 13 percent among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Worse for him, he registered at just 9 percent in a Fox poll of registered Republicans released.

Bush allies argue that he benefits from Trump’s rise because it casts Bush as the clear alternative and he will start pulling supporters away from lesser candidates whose backers worry that Trump might win the nomination. But Trump-friendly anti-establishment candidates Ted Cruz and Ben Carson are polling as well as the more Bush-like second-tier hopefuls, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. Last week, I posited that a winnowing of the field is more likely to help Trump than Bush.

Regardless of how that all plays out, the fact that Bush’s team is pushing silver-lining narratives is evidence, in and of itself, that there’s a huge cloud hanging over the campaign.

Since losing the 1994 Florida gubernatorial election, Bush has made a conscious effort to tone down his rhetoric on controversial issues and to use more inclusive language. The idea is that he wants to attract people to his position, not repel them, with his speeches and public statements.

That makes a lot of sense for a policy wonk who wants to implement an agenda. But, as conservative San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders observed earlier this year, it has made him a very dull speaker: “Bush has blunted his sharp edges. Now he’s a butter knife.”

It doesn’t take a Q-score expert to know that everyone in the Republican primary field looks bland in comparison to Trump. Bush can hope that he will ultimately be helped by the contrast if Republican voters tire of Trump’s showmanship.

For now, some Republicans say privately, it just reinforces the idea that Bush would be as boring as John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012.

Read more here.

Published: Aug 19, 2015

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