Jeb Bush has finally put his presidential campaign out of its misery.
But it wasn't so long ago that Jeb was widely seen as the candidate to beat in the Republican presidential primary. Pundits predicted that Bush was almost as inevitable a nominee as Hillary Clinton was. Commentators cast Bush as the Republican Party's best chance at leaving Clinton shaking in her boots. Between his "rock star name" and the gusher of money he had flowing into his campaign before even announcing, Bush was thought to have the nomination nearly at his fingertips.
Then reality intervened. The former Florida governor has been a pitiable punch line for months. And the actual vote tallies are particularly embarrassing. Bush finished a woeful sixth in the Iowa caucuses, fourth in New Hampshire, and will come in either fourth or fifth in South Carolina when all the votes are finally tallied. No wonder he dropped out.
It's amazing how much can change in a year. Here's a look back at some headlines from early 2015, compared to the current news coverage of the man who would have been America's third President Bush.
1. "It's looking like Hillary vs. Jeb"
"Barring a major disruption in the force field, it's looking like Hillary vs. Jeb, and the same might still be true a year from now. The new dynamic of the GOP race, once totally up for grabs, is that someone has to knock out Jeb. It could be Walker, it could be Rubio, it could be Rand — but it'll be hard." —Mike Allen, Politico's Playbook, Feb. 25, 2015
2. "A political rock star name"
"Jeb Bush will be the Republican Party's 2016 presidential candidate because he has a political rock star name. And he isn't a hacker who the GOP likes to send out to carve up red meat in front of their hungry base. So, he stands a good chance of going beyond primary season to where voters prefer a balanced meal." —Ben Guise, The Des Moines Register, Jan. 30, 2015
3. "Could stand toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton"
"He is arguably the most knowledgeable candidate on the widest array of issues and cannot credibly be typecast as a dim-witted Republican. Being able to discuss many issues intelligently suggests that he would have less of a learning curve if elected and could stand toe-to-toe with Hillary Clinton." —Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post, March 3, 2015
4. "Money, momentum, Florida, big ideas"
"He's got money, momentum, Florida, big ideas. His surprise, early signal that he's running is THE PLAY OF THE CAMPAIGN so far — pushing OUT Mitt and perhaps Christie by freezing or stealing their money and talent. Jeb will be first Republican to $100 million by a mile. Now, watch for the use of overwhelming force to lock up more talent, donors, and public endorsements." —Mike Allen, Politico's Playbook, Feb. 15, 2015
5. "Serious strengths"
"Bush's December announcement that he plans to 'actively explore' a run for the presidency shook up the GOP primary. First, major GOP donors have already started flocking to him, a development that could squeeze potential rivals. Second, the move made it clear how serious the son and brother of presidents is about running after years of rumors that he would ultimately seek another office once his term as Florida governor had ended.
Bush has serious strengths, including the support of donors from New York to Florida to Texas." —National Journal, Jan. 4, 2015
6. "Someone who can win the general election and reach out beyond the party's core supporters"
"He is the kind of candidate that a lot of Republican donors have been looking for — someone who can win the general election and reach out beyond the party's core supporters." —John Rowe, co-chairman of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition, The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 25, 2015
7. "A 2016 presidential fundraising juggernaut"
"Jeb Bush, the former governor, brother of president 43 and son of president 41, has quietly but ruthlessly assembled a 2016 presidential fundraising juggernaut — one that Republican money men say will be impossible for any of the other 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls to emulate and could easily go stride for stride with the legendary Clinton fundraising machine when, as expected, the former first lady announces her 2016 intentions." —Charlie Gasparino, Fox Business, March 25, 2015
8. "Money + organization = success"
"Money + organization = success. Bush is not a strong frontrunner and, as we've detailed in this space, has some major problems with the conservative base. But, his aggressiveness and seeming commitment to running puts him back on top." —Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake, The Washington Post, Jan. 9, 2015
9. "Our best chance"
"Jeb is our best chance of taking back the White House in 2016, and I hope that you will join me in pushing him to run.” —Barbara Bush, The Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2015
1. "A source of pity"
"Against all odds (and logic), Jeb Bush's campaign continues to chug along. The campaign staff are disheartened and the candidate has become a source of pity for most New Hampshire voters. Despite Bush's exemplary record as a governor in Florida, and his moderate and intelligent positions on key policy issues, he continues to fade into the background. Sadly, no amount of town hall meetings, speeches filled with muddled sentences, and struggles to find words can save him at this point." —Sydney Spreck, Star Tribune, Jan. 31, 2016
2. "Really disappointing"
“I'm resigned to it being over, frankly. It's really disappointing. I'd urge him to get out after New Hampshire if he doesn't do well, but he probably won't." —top Bush Wall Street donor, Politico, Jan. 15, 2016
3. "So sad"
"Donors I've talked to are desperate not to abandon Jeb because of their long bonds and loyalty with the family, but they are also recognizing there is no ROI [return on investment] on this campaign. The sense of these folks is it is so sad. They whisper to each other, 'When will Jeb go?'" —Rick Wilson, veteran Florida political operative and Marco Rubio backer, Politico, Jan. 15, 2016
4. "A dreadful campaigner"
"In truth, his problems are almost all of his own making: He is a dreadful campaigner with a tendency towards a reasonable and wonkish tone. All of which makes him singularly ill-suited to the angry, anti-establishment mood of his own party. His efforts to shoehorn himself into the election make him an even worse campaigner. In his desperate desire to fit the mood of the times, he constantly miscues." —Richard Wolffe, The Guardian, Feb. 2, 2016
5. "A struggling scion"
"'Please clap,' the former Florida governor begged a New Hampshire crowd last Tuesday. If he was still the field's front-runner, the moment would have been written off as a nerdy candidate's nervous tic. How polite. How humble. But from the mouth of a struggling scion, 'Please clap' is a sad epilogue." —Ron Fournier, The Atlantic, Feb. 7, 2016
6. "Doomed to fail"
"Does anyone other than Jeb Bush believe that Americans marvel at how efficiently the president cleans out his inbox? Or applaud him for successfully refereeing a dispute between the secretaries of commerce and agriculture? The voters aren't looking for an administrator-in-chief. Last fall Bush gambled otherwise — and released a 644-page book full of emails that he wrote as governor of Florida. If anyone read it — and if Amazon is any guide, almost no one did — they would first have had to wade through six pages of acronyms such as the BOG and the DCA (not to be confused with the DCF).
That's why Bush, the guy who was supposed to win, is losing. Even if he does somehow negative-ad his way to the presidency, he's doomed to fail because he doesn't understand the theater of that office." —Matt Latimer, The Los Angeles Times, Feb. 3, 2016
7. "Failing, disappointed, humiliated"
"Failing, disappointed, humiliated by six months of well-aimed taunts from Donald Trump, Jeb Bush has had a horrible six months. Once the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, he probably, it turns out, never stood a chance of getting it. He is measured, thoughtful, wonkish; Republican voters want rage. He could scarcely be more of the GOP establishment that they decry." —J.A., The Economist, Jan. 15, 2016
8. "The most underwhelming of the entire race"
"Bush's campaign has been the most underwhelming of the entire race. Coming in with a front-runner's presidential pedigree (quite literally), Bush has rarely looked the part on the campaign trail, trying several different tacks to get voters interested in his campaign (one was "Jeb Can Fix It") — none of which have worked." —Aaron Blake, The Washington Post, Feb. 8, 2016
9. "When your supporters start feeling sorry for you"
"It is never a good sign for a candidate when your supporters start feeling sorry for you, but that is what has happened to Jeb Bush." —Molly Ball, The Atlantic, Jan. 30, 2016
10. "Like buying a stock and watching it fall"
"It's like buying a stock and watching it fall. Putting good money after bad? He certainly has enough for now. I think people are waiting to see if there's someone they can support and who has a chance to win." —Steven Shafran, former Goldman Sachs partner and contributor to Bush's super PAC, Bloomberg, Feb. 1, 2016