Jeb Bush bowed out of the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination on Saturday night, putting to an end one of America’s most prominent political dynasties and, frankly, one of the saddest campaigns in recent memory.
No single candidacy this year fell so short of its original expectations. It began with an aura of inevitability that masked deep problems, from Mr. Bush himself, a clunky candidate in a field of gifted performers, to the rightward drift of the Republican Party since Mr. Bush’s time as a consensus conservative in Florida.
“I’m proud of the campaign that we’ve run to unify our country,” Mr. Bush said, his eyes moist, in an emotional speech here Saturday night after his third straight disappointing finish in the early voting states. “The people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, and I really respect their decision.”
Mr. Bush’s campaign had rested on a set of assumptions that, one by one, turned out to be flatly incorrect: that the Republican primaries would turn on a record of accomplishment in government; that Mr. Bush’s cerebral and reserved style would be an asset; and that a country wary of dynasties would evaluate this member of the Bush family on his own merits.
“We’ve had enough Bushes,” his mother, Barbara Bush, observed prophetically before her son announced his candidacy last summer.
Mr. Bush, 63, the former two-term governor of Florida, failed to inspire Republican primary voters whose mood and needs had changed dramatically since he left government in 2007. In what turned out to be the year of the unconventional outsider, he conducted his campaign as the conventional insider.
Last summer, as Donald J. Trump prepared to declare his candidacy with an incendiary and improvised speech in New York City about the criminal records of immigrants from Mexico, Mr. Bush was in Eastern Europe, meeting with heads of state and delivering calibrated remarks about American diplomacy.
And as he stood on debate stages next to the likes of Mr. Trump and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Mr. Bush never seemed to convincingly play the fighter figure.
After promising to conduct a “joyful” campaign, Mr. Bush instead found himself locked in an ugly and dejected slog, under gleeful attack from his rivals and heightened scrutiny from the political world he had thought was rooting for him.
In a painful twist of the knife, Mr. Bush was overtaken by his former political protégé, Senator Marco Rubio, whose career he had nurtured in Florida.
But by far his biggest liability, aides and advisers concede, was a pedigree he could do nothing to erase or dilute: He was a Bush through and through, at a time when voters sneered at the political and economic establishment that his family name embodied.
The last time was a happier affair. It was 2010 and he was celebrating the defeat of his successor as Florida governor — Charlie Crist, who was once the embodiment of the political establishment. The man who beat Crist, Marco Rubio, Bush’s friend whom he introduced onstage at his Coral Gables victory party.
“Bushes get emotional,” Bush said. My wife has told me, ‘Don’t cry. Don’t cry.’ Marco Rubio makes me cry for joy.”
Six years later, Rubio made Bush cry for a far-different reason.
Summarised from: Politico, New York Times