Jeb Bush rebooted his troubled campaign once more Monday as he discovers slowly, and painfully, having two presidents in the family is not enough to get him to the White House.
He has a new slogan — “Jeb can fix it” — now, a refurbished staff, which is leaner and easier on the budget, and a new e-book containing emails to his constituents as Florida governor.
“After seven years of incompetence, corruption and gridlock in Washington, we need a president who can fix it. I can fix it,” said Bush. Perhaps he can, but Republicans are not convinced.
Bush entered the race in June and zoomed right to the top of the field in polls. He was going to be the establishment candidate to take on the presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He inherited a network of rich donors and loyalists from the two former presidents in the family George H Bush and George W Bush, and, rising to expectations he out-raised everyone.
As the race heated up, especially after the entry of the flashy and unpredictable real estate tycoon Donald Trump, Bush began slipping in polls, not helped by his own gaffes and stumbles.
Trump went for him straight, calling him “low-energy”, a characterization that has somehow stuck, feeding perhaps on an existing impression of Bush as a reluctant candidate.
In October, Bush downsized his campaign reinforcing the narrative of a candidate in trouble — he fired some senior staff members and consultants and shrank office operations.
A leaner Bush was expected then to use the next debate to fire up his campaign, show urgency and more energy and generally look and behave more aggressive, eager to slug it out.
He tried, but ended up having his worst moment yet. He attacked one-time protege and senator Marco Rubio for skipping work — “what is it, like a French work week”
Rubio was ready for it and blasted Bush for attacking him only because — “we’re running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you” “Jeb is dead,” ran a headline in The Weekly Standard, a conservative news publication. Bush is still around though, rebooting his campaign for the fifth time, by one count.