Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the Republican primary candidate causing the most excitement—at least when it comes to media coverage and outspoken grassroots support—is Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, Trump has found his niche in the voter base, and he’s playing out his position by going consistently on the offensive against candidates who would prefer to turn focus on their budding policy initiatives for health care or education.
While campaigning in New Hampshire this week, Trump took full aim at fellow contender Jeb Bush, who constitutes the prime example of a candidate we’d expect to pivot away from rhetorical attacks. Trump played off of this significant difference in tactics and personality, and the results were devastating.
“Know what’s happening to Jeb’s crowd, right down the street? They’re sleeping!”
This is a terrible optic for Team Bush, and they know it. At a rival town hall meeting just 20 miles away from Trump’s rally, Bush (finally?) went to the mat over Trump’s credentials.
Although Trump frequently criticizes Bush’s style and energy on the stump, Bush has for the most part avoided directly engaging with the billionaire. But on Wednesday, Bush responded to a question by a voter who asked about the “candidate that’s leading in all the polls.”
“You’re talking about Trump, aren’t you?” Bush deadpanned. “You can mention his name, he’s the current front-runner. He’s done a pretty amazing job to get to that point.”
The former governor said that Trump “has clearly got talent” and “has won a lot of people over.” But he stressed that he believes Trump’s record is less than conservative.
“Mr. Trump doesn’t have a proven conservative record,” he said. “He was a Democrat longer in the last decade than he was a Republican. He has given more money to Democrats than he’s given to Republicans.”
“Even on immigration where…the language is pretty vitriolic for sure,” Bush added. “But hundreds of billions of dollars of costs to implement his plans is not a conservative plan. This is going to be my pitch: Let’s support someone who you don’t have to guess where he stands because he’s consistent, because he’s been governor he’s consistently had the views that he has.”
This wasn’t a planned pivot, but it was a necessary one. Bush’s campaign has put up a largely lackluster show compared to Trump’s bombast, or Marco Rubio’s energetic appeals. Reports have surfaced suggesting that Bush’s donors have been less than impressed by their chosen candidate’s docile approach to what has become a primary slugfest. They’re looking elsewhere—and possibly toward Ohio, where John Kasich’s New Day for America PAC is set to benefit from this lack of enthusiasm. Representatives from the PAC have said that several Bush donors have approached the organization, but wouldn’t elaborate on whether or not these donors have actually jumped ship.
More via Fox News:
Kasich’s greatest success has come in the early primary state of New Hampshire. Earlier Wednesday, he secured the endorsement of former New Hampshire Republican state legislators Doug and Stella Scamman, whose farm hosted Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign launch. Other prominent Granite State GOP leaders to come out for Kasich include former RNC member Nancy Merrill, who co-chaired Sen. John McCain’s New Hampshire campaigns in 2000 and 2008, and state Rep. Jack Flanagan, majority leader in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
Voters appear to have taken notice of Kasich as well, despite his late entry into the race. A Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce University poll released earlier this month found Kasich in third place with 12 percent of the vote, just one percentage point behind Bush and six points behind leader Donald Trump.
A strong performance in the first Republican debate in his home state of Ohio appears to have helped Kasich as well.
Keep in mind that this is Bush we’re talking about. Bush, who is a Bush, is losing steam against an apolitical corporate insurgent and a midwestern governor. His tactical shift could help him—I’m not ready to count Bush out yet—but the fact that it was a forced shift says much about Trump’s ability to run an effective offense against one of America’s most successful political dynasties.DONATE
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