Bloomberg News’ former top editor, Al Hunt, says GOP candidate Jeb Bush has been “savaged” by Washington-outsider Donald Trump.
Alongside various self-inflicted mistakes and hits from Sen. Marco Rubio, “Jeb Bush suffered most from being savaged by Mr. Trump, the billionaire developer, who derided him, insulted his family ties and mocked him with the lasting epithet that he was ‘low energy,'” Hunt writes in a column at the New York Times.
Hunt explains that Bush missed an opportunity in the first half of 2015 to define himself as a reform candidate and to showcase conservative credentials that appeal to the base of the Republican Party.
The author, however, fails to mention the two fast-changing areas that have contributed to Bush’s rejection by the party’s conservative and populist base: first, Bush’s unpopular support for amnesty for illegal immigrants, and, second, his refusal to reject the unpopular Common Core state standards.
By emphasizing Americans’ interests first, Donald Trump has reformed immigration politics, away from Bush’s establishment view of immigration as an economic driver for companies and federal tax-revenues. For example, Trump’s popular immigration reform plan is backed by GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, the chief opponent of the Sen. Marco Rubio’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty, and aims to protect Americans’ job and wages from cheap imported labor.
On Common Core, Bush himself tried to stigmatize conservatives and parents who opposed to the federalized education initiative by casting them as a bunch of whiners who weren’t even needed by the Republican Party to win the White House.
But Hunt has’t noticed these huge shifts in public attitudes. For example, he’s a long-standing supporter of large-scale immigration, and views opposition to cheap imported labor as illegitimate. Here’s another January 2016 column of his describing the role of immigration and cheap-labor in in the 2016 GOP campaign. “Trump has soared to the top of the Republican presidential field with an immigration-bashing pitch… There is plenty of demagoguery and racism to this appeal,” he wrote.
After detailing the damage caused by Trump, Hunt continues with additional problems for Bush’s campaign:
The campaign then decided that the super PAC, Right to Rise, run by Mr. Bush’s longtime confidant Mike Murphy, would be the prime player. The PAC has spent $70 million on broadcast, cable and radio advertising, almost 30 percent of the total spent by all Republican and Democratic candidates and their political action committees.
Yet, Bush has been below 10 percent in the polls since last October.
Hunt explains that after Trump mocked Bush with his “lasting epithet” – that he was “low energy,” Bush was indeed at an all-time low, though Hunt believes he managed to score some points during the Iowa debate sans Trump.
Still, “when he riffs on topics such as Civil Service reform, the Trump shot echoes,” Hunt admits, observing that in the Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll released last Saturday, Bush is in a four-way tie for seventh place with only two percent of the vote and the highest number of negatives of all the GOP candidates.
“If his showing in the caucuses is no better than what the polling predicts, he would need a strong showing in New Hampshire next week against the other establishment candidates in order to retain a plausible path to the nomination,” Hunt concludes.