Jeb’s Gaffe-Ridden Campaign

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Scott Greer Contributor
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Republican presidential candidates are obviously tired of being overshadowed by one Donald J. Trump. The other dozen or so White House hopefuls struggle to get anywhere near the coverage the billionaire businessman receives on a daily basis.

This arrangement has probably irked no one more than former GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush. Prior to the entry of The Donald, Bush was the talk of the media and was leading the Republican pack by a comfortable margin. Fast forward a few months, and now Jeb is down in the polls and has a high unfavorable rating among GOP voters. To put in perspective how low Bush has sunk, his top supporters are prepared to bolt if he doesn’t shape up and start leading the field, according to a Monday Washington Post report.

Additionally, the former Florida governor looks on the verge of a breakdown every time he has to field questions about Trump.

So it’s understandable that Bush is ticked off his policy proposals are getting ignored in favor of Trump’s ever-creative barbs and made-for-TV rhetoric. However, the establishment favorite should probably thank the billionaire insurgent for soaking up all the media attention — because it’s taken away the eye of Sauron from Bush’s numerous gaffes this election cycle.

We all know about Trump’s many eye-opening statements that have at times shocked people from all sides of the political spectrum. A lot of people are also aware of fellow candidate Ben Carson’s hotly contested comments on Muslims. What have been less discussed are Bush’s “speak-os,” and they’ve hit nearly every political topic imaginable.

The first trip-up was answering a question on whether it was right for America to invade Iraq. It took him three tries over a one-week period before he settled on an agreeable answer. Bush’s dithering earned him much ridicule from the press and created the impression that he still would’ve gone to Iraq “knowing what we know now.”

Then there was his statement that Americans need to work longer hours in order to make the economy grow. While Bush attempted to clarify that he only meant underemployed Americans need more hours, the sentence came across like a feudal lord yelling at his serfs to work harder.

Bush found himself in hot water at the start of August for saying, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” He later said he misspoke and strongly supports funding women’s health issues.

During the first debate in August, the establishment favorite managed to avoid any major gaffe but delivered one of the more lackluster performances of the night. Supporters weren’t exactly thrilled with the effort.

In an attempt to combat Trump’s fiery rhetoric on immigration later that month, Jeb flew down to the border to give a speech on the issue. Addressing concerns over anchor babies, he said that it was more of an Asian problem than a Hispanic problem. That inevitably drew charges of racism from Asian-American groups and quickly overshadowed any attempt on the part of Bush to denounce Trump’s “divisive” rhetoric.

Bush was able to make up for some of his poor messaging with a much stronger performance in the second debate this month.

But, this week, he once again was in the headlines for a contentious statement that doesn’t help his moderate image. During a South Carolina rally, Bush implied Democrats win over the poor, particularly the black poor with promises of free stuff. Liberals, including Hillary Clinton, were quick to pounce and deride the Republican contender for his condescending remarks. Bush, however, has stood by his comments. (RELATED: Jeb Bush Defends Comments On Poverty, Says The Left Takes Things Out Of Context)

Whatever the case may be behind the individual gaffes, it’s quite an exhaustive list for the guy who’s supposed to be the moderate adult in the primary.

It’s no wonder then why so many of Bush’s staunchest supporters are feeling skittish about his chances of winning the nomination and are warning they may defect if he doesn’t show improvement. While they have not received the wall-to-wall coverage that Trump gets for his boisterous utterances, Bush’s supporters have undoubtedly noticed them and one of the reasons for their discontent has to be the bad messaging of the favorite son. Many of these supporters remember how much Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe hurt the 2012 Republican presidential candidate and they don’t want a repeat.

That might explain why Marco Rubio is beginning to rise in the polls and Bush is declining. Rubio is far better at articulating a message liked by big-time GOP donors and party insiders. The young senator from Florida has had no major gaffes so far and he certainly knows how to get his ideas across in the media.

If Bush doesn’t show any drastic improvement on the messaging front, you can expect more of his support to flock to his former protege.

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