It Took Jeb $150 Million, 250 Days and 3 States to Figure Out Republicans Don’t Want More Bush

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SOURCEThink Progress

Jeb Bush, once the odds-on favorite to capture the Republican nomination, dropped out of the race tonight. His campaign and his Super PAC, Right To Rise, spent, at least, $150 million trying to woo voters.

The massive expenditure of funds earned him 2.8 percent of the vote in Iowa, 11 percent of the vote in New Hampshire and, at the time he announced his withdrawal from the race, about 8 percent of the vote in South Carolina.

Bush touted his record as governor of Florida, but the most prominent moments of his campaign involved praising his brother, former president George W. Bush, the Iraq War, and the broader response to the September 11 attacks. Despite virtually unlimited funds and massive institutional support, this did not prove to be popular, even among the Republican primary electorate.

Jeb Bush Started The Campaign Saying He Would Authorize The Iraq War Again

In May, Jeb Bush participated in one of his first high profile interviews of the campaign with Fox News (he wasn’t officially running at the time, but he was raising money for his Super PAC).

“Knowing what you know now, would you have authorized the invasion?” Kelly asked.

“I would, and so would Hillary Clinton,” Bush replied.

Bush concluded on a sarcastic note. “Newsflash to the world, if they are trying to find a place where there is big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of them,” he said.

Later, Bush said he misunderstood the question and said it would be disrespectful to the troops to actually answer. Under heavy criticism, he finally shifted course, saying “I would not have gone into Iraq.”

Bush Said The Iraq War Was A ‘Good Deal’

In August, speaking at a national security forum in Iowa, Bush said the war in Iraq was a “pretty good deal.”

The war took the lives of 4,424 Americans, more than 115,000 Iraqis and cost $1.7 trillion.

Bush Said His Brother ‘Kept Us Safe’

This was a common refrain for Bush throughout his run for the presidency. The campaign thought it was effective, posting this clip of a September debate on YouTube:

But it was also an odd argument since George W. Bush was president on 9/11 and led America into a war in Iraq that cost thousands of more lives.

When Trump Attacked The Iraq War, Bush Said To Stop Attacking His Family

In Jeb Bush’s final debate, Donald Trump set his sights on George W. Bush and the Iraq war:

George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East… You call it whatever you want. I want to tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.

Bush’s response was extremely personal:

[F]rankly, I could care less about the insults that Donald Trump gives to me. It’s blood sport for him. He enjoys it. And I’m glad he’s happy about it. But I am sick and tired…

I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind.

And while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I’m proud of what he did.

Many pundits thought this played poorly for Trump because George W. Bush is still relatively popular in the Republican electorate, especially in South Carolina. Trump, after all, was calling the last Republican president a liar.

But it would be Jeb’s last stand.

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Judd Legum
Judd Legum is Editor-in-Chief of ThinkProgress. Previously, Judd was the Research Director for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign. He also worked at American Progress from 2003 to 2007, when he founded and edited ThinkProgress. Judd holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A. from Pomona College in Public Policy analysis. He is a member of the Maryland Bar and has practiced as an attorney, focusing on civil and criminal trial work. Judd has also appeared frequently on radio and television, including CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and CNBC.

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