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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Turns out, Jeb wasn't so good at politics

This Jeb from his official gubernatorial portrait seemed far different from today's Jeb

Times files

This Jeb from his official gubernatorial portrait seemed far different from today's Jeb



CHARLESTON, S.C. — What were they thinking?

In hindsight that may be the biggest question: How did Jeb Bush and his once-savvy political team so badly misunderstand today's Republican electorate?

The bold — and, yes, high-energy — governor who transformed Florida government and politics in the 1990s was thoroughly unprepared for today's far more conservative, far more angry Republican Party than when he governed. It was absurd for thoughtful and thin-skinned Bush ever to think he could run a "joyful" campaign for president in this political environment.

He ran honorably, but as he gave in to reality Saturday night and suspended his campaign, the giant in Florida politics had become much diminished as a presidential candidate. It wasn't Donald Trump's fault and it wasn't George W. Bush's fault. Bush spent $150 million and failed to earn even a bronze third-place medal in Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. Republicans simply weren't buying from a candidate whose time had passed...

...Many of us who watched Bush lead Florida's political transformation overestimated his political skill. He simply wasn't particularly good at politics, or at least at inspiring and exciting voters. We saw him trounce two weak Democratic challengers, Buddy MacKay and Bill McBride, and we saw him push through a sweeping and ambitious agenda in Tallahassee with a docile and compliant Republican-controlled Legislature. Based on that, we wrongly assumed he could be more persuasive with voters across the country.

Column here


[Last modified: Sunday, February 21, 2016 10:34am]


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