Roger L. Simon

Is New Hampshire the End of the Road for Jeb?

New Hampshire looked like a winter wonderland of fresh snow as I drove over to the Jeb Bush event at a middle school in Bedford Saturday morning. But it’s no wonderland for Jeb, whose floundering campaign has been buffeted on all sides.

Just this morning The Hill is reporting discontent from several senators with the pro-Jeb superPAC Right to Rise for its endless attack ads. The senators, including the normally mild Orrin Hatch, are afraid the ads will damage the GOP in the general election.

These ads are aimed almost exclusively at the ascendant Marco Rubio, so it came as no surprise that the woman at the press entrance asked me to remove my Rubio press pass (I have several for various candidates hanging around my neck at this point) before I could come in.

Today’s event is clearly well attended, but you have to wonder if this isn’t the end of the road for Jeb.  Of course this event won’t determine that, but tonight’s debate probably will.IMG_1083

That debate and the ensuing primary will be the great Republican winnowing. Chris Christie says it will come down to the three leaders — Trump, Cruz, Rubio — and one governor. Maybe, maybe not. If Bush, Christie or Kasich do not fare well on Monday, they could be bye-bye. It will be an interesting test of ego versus reality.

Lindsey Graham — who is evidently addicted to politics — was one of Bush’s introducers. In a mercifully short speech, he reminded us it was Ronald Reagan’s birthday. He was followed by the Pennsylvania governor, not exactly the “A-team.” Except for the final intro by his son, George P. Bush, the atmosphere was almost nostalgic.

Bush’s speech channeled Reagan. It was all about being positive, in radical opposition to the nauseating attack ads from his PAC. Theoretically, candidates are  not supposed to be able to communicate with their PACs, but if you believe that… well, you know.

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The rest of Bush’s speech was his pro forma litany of his gubernatorial achievements. They were fine but they seem so yesterday.

The weird thing about the Republican campaign is that most of candidates are saying the same things, just using different words (in Trump’s case colorful ones). In the grand scheme of political thought, the differences are marginal.

I am worried, however, that Bush, because of family ties, has more faith in our Arab “allies” in the fight against ISIS than reality would indicate he should have. (He reiterated this in his speech.)

Nevertheless, the big fight will be between the Republicans and the Democrats. Compared to that, what we are witnessing now is child’s play.