I agree with my Red State colleague Leon Wolf that Donald Trump has hit a ceiling of around 35 percent support in GOP primaries. Or, put another way, 65 percent of Republicans do not want Trump to be the party’s presidential nominee. Sixty-five percent. Those votes have to start coalescing around a single candidate–or at the most, two. My choices for the two survivors would be Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, even though I’m not a Cruz fan at all and don’t want to see him be the nominee. Nonetheless, he won Iowa.
The latest poll in South Carolina shows Cruz and Rubio even with 18 percent of support. The average of SC polls shows them neck and neck. Straggling behind them are Kasich, Bush and Carson. Carson’s support is in the low single digits. He absolutely must drop out. As for Bush and Kasich — Kasich received less than 2 percent of the vote in Iowa. While he came in second in New Hampshire, he only snagged four delegates from that endeavor, while Cruz, Rubio and even Bush got three each. I’m sure he and his team have a rationale for staying in, but at some point all these also-rans have to start putting their country and their party before their own egotistical ambitions. They have to start thinking of themselves as valuable to the effort, but not invaluable, in other words. Or, more simply: they need to get off the nomination stage. Now.
Jeb Bush, in particular must leave. His last debate performance might have been his best, but he had a low bar to surpass. And he did something in that debate that was despicable. When Donald Trump talked of the Iraq War being a disaster, Jeb Bush didn’t turn to him and say, Shame on you, Mr. Trump, for demeaning the great sacrifices our military and their families have made. No, instead he whined about how hurtful Trump was for going after…the Bush family. That triggers a gag reflex whenever I think about it. Jeb Bush whined about his mommy when military families across this country lost loved ones to death and injury in the Iraq War. Couldn’t Jeb muster an iota of righteous indignation in defense of them? Couldn’t he have said that Trump’s crude remarks are an insult to those who sacrificed for their country, and while we can and should debate the effectiveness of the Iraq War, let’s start with the premise that those who served in it did so with courage and honor, and their efforts should never be characterized as a “disaster?”
It curdles the stomach to think of the egotism, the campaign gamesmanship encapsulated in Jeb’s smarmy response. I can imagine his team members coaching him before the debate, knowing his brother is very popular in South Carolina. If Trump goes after the Iraq War, make it about your mom, they might have told him. And Jeb couldn’t muster even a little dot of the energy from his exclamation point name to say, “Hell, no, it’s not about the Bush family. It’s about military families and the losses they sustained.”
Byron York has written a terrific piece about this topic over at the Washington Examiner. It’s well worth the read and can be found here. Personally, I think Jeb should hang his head in shame and drop out now for his insensitive and stupid response to Trump’s attack on the Iraq War. He must go.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.