Stumbling through his short speech in an under-crowded room in a New Hampshire middle school, Jeb Bush looked surprisingly pathetic given his long tenure as a politician. Watching Bush speak made me feel incredibly sorry for him. Bush still spoke with a genuine desire to help Americans succeed, and despite his plummeting poll numbers the few devoted followers in the crowd still referred to him as “the future president”. It must be awful to be the presumed successor of a father and a brother, only to fail on an epic level from the get go. I’m no Republican, but of all the candidates the pathos of Jeb Bush pulls at my heart strings. However, a candidate can not win based on the pity of the electorate alone. Presidential candidates, especially in the current election, are expected to be exciting and to introduce big new ideas. Sadly, Jeb Bush is the opposite of exciting, despite the exclamation point he added to his campaign slogan (Jeb!).
The question remains as to why Jeb Bush is still in the race, when he trails so far behind in the polls and few people believe he can win. He obviously has the money to keep going. Jeb’s super PAC brought in huge amounts of money early on, allowing his campaign to be sustained this long, despite donations drying up. His event boasted the largest assortment of free merchandise I had seen thus far. Everything from pennants, stickers and buttons were handed out liberally at the front door. Despite having the money to keep going for the long haul, it is still hard to determine what Bush is trying to achieve. Is he hoping that some scandal or gaffe will cause the frontrunners to drop out? Even if this happened, Jeb would not be the candidate next in line to gain the party’s favor. Perhaps he is using the primary as an audition for a position in the next president’s cabinet, or in the hope of improving his recognition if he attempts to run again. But in both of these scenarios, Bush’s poor showing at this stage in the game would only hurt his chances for future appointments or races.
Against all odds (and logic), Jeb Bush’s campaign continues to chug along. The campaign staff are disheartened and the candidate has become a source of pity for most New Hampshire voters. Despite Bush’s exemplary record as a governor in Florida, and his moderate and intelligent positions on key policy issues, he continues to fade into the background. Sadly, no amount of town hall meetings, speeches filled with muddled sentences and struggles to find words can save him at this point. Jeb Bush is losing his chance to occupy his previously anointed throne in the Republican Party. Liberals and conservatives alike mourn his pursuit as a missed opportunity and a lost cause.
--Sydney Spreck is a St. Olaf sophomore from Stillwater, MN, majoring in Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential primary elections.