Is Jeb Bush’s campaign in trouble? The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza thinks so. New polling from the Post/ABC News shows Bush essentially tied for first place with Rand Paul, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, and Quinnipiac has a similar poll showing Bush tied with Walker, Rubio, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson. Cillizza concludes that “Jeb Bush can no longer be described as even the nominal front runner” in the 2016 race, something that is a “major problem for a candidate whose appeal to the Republican electorate is built, in no small part, on the inevitability of his victory.”
I congratulate the Post for coming to the same conclusion The Pulse did back on April 16: Jeb Bush is not the front runner (and never really was). The number of primary voters who will “never consider” voting for Bush (42 percent, according to a Bloomberg poll) because he is a Bush more than offsets any advantages that flow to him due to his name and the money it brings.
The question is: What can he do about it? A good start would be to continue to develop the argument he opened up last weekend on monetary policy and the Federal Reserve. In New Hampshire, in response to a question about whether currency manipulation had disadvantaged American manufacturers, Bush said “you can make a case that in the last few years, given our monetary policy, that we’ve been manipulating our currency. We’ve never had a time where our central bank is just printing money like nobody’s business. And that depreciates our currency. It lowers interest rates and depreciates our currency.” Bush needs to broaden that argument to show that Fed policy not only hurts manufacturing, but even more profoundly harms middle class and working people by causing wage stagnation and rising costs.
If Jeb Bush can engage that argument, and develop a rationale for his candidacy beyond his name and his money, he might be able to convince Republican primary voters to take a second look. That would make an already interesting race even more so.
Frank Cannon is the president of American Principles in Action.