On February 20th 2016, Jeb Bush dropped out of the US Presidential Race. This was after poor results in Iowa and New Hampshire, and placing fourth in South Carolina primary with under 8% of the vote.43rd Governor of California, Second son of 41st President George H. W. Bush, and brother of 43rd President George W. Bush, John Ellis ‘Jeb’ Bush appeared the obvious choice for the Republican nomination and could have become the third member of the Bush dynasty to be President of the United States.
Before announcing his candidacy, Jeb had announced the formation of the Right to Rise Super-PAC in December 2014 (PAC=Political Action Committee, an organisation that pools campaign contributions). By May 2015, it had raised over $100 million for his campaign, giving him an advantage over the majority of his GOP (‘Grand Old Party’-a lasting nickname for the Republicans) rivals and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. He also courted many of the donors to Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful 2012 campaign, recruited much of his staff and quickly became frontrunner – the ‘establishment’ candidate.
Jeb’s connections with the Bush name were inherently problematic, with his brother George W. Bush now very unpopular largely due to his part in the Iraq War. He conspicuously left the ‘Bush’ surname out of his campaign logo, but ill-concieved comments such as referring to his brother as his “top foreign policy advisor” only served to restrict his appeal. His infamous Fox News interview with Megyn Kelly confused his position on the war, and days later he said that he would not have invaded Iraq.
Kelly: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion?
Bush: I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got.
Kelly: You don’t think it was a mistake?
Bush: In retrospect, the intelligence that everybody saw, that the world saw, not just the United States, was, um, faulty, and in retrospect, once we, once we, um, invaded, and took out Saddam Hussein, we didn’t focus on security first, and the Iraqis in this incredibly insecure environment turned on the United States military because there was no security for themselves and their families. By the way, guess who thinks those mistakes took place as well? George W. Bush. Just for the news flash to the world if they’re trying to find places between me and my brother, this might not be one of those…
Jeb Bush also shared an incredibly hostile relationship with eventual victor Donald Trump, spending millions on anti-Trump ads and repeatedly clashing with him in debates. However he was unable to get the better of him, with Trump describing him as “low energy” and was able to goad him into defending his brother over Iraq. Many commentators also regard his failure in this duel was his unwillingness to address the immigration concerns of Republican voters, tapped into by Trump. But his poorly run campaign was central to his failure. Days before the fateful North Carolina primary Jeb Bush was lambasted on social media for a very ill-judged tweet.