At a Houston gathering earlier this week, attended by Jeb Bush’s richest donors, the Bush brain trust huddled together to salvage the Bush family name and Jeb’s flagging presidential hopes. As has become clear to everyone in the Bush camp, Jeb, as a political candidate, is just not meeting the expectations of the Bush brand.
Both former presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, attended the pow-wow organized to help breath life into Jeb’s once thriving presidential bid. But what all the Bushes and mega donors do not seem to understand… the brand is toxic. No amount of money spent on advertising will make a skunk smell like a rose.
What is so odd about trying to resuscitate the Bush brand is that at the start of his campaign, Jeb did all he could to run away from the family name. But that wise strategy didn’t last long. Before you could blink an eye, Jeb was praising his brother W. for his service as president, especially on his foreign policy. Not only did he claim on a debate stage that W. “kept us safe,” but also later doubled and tripled down on the absurd comment.
The Bush brand has come to be associated with the 9/11 attack, the Iraq invasion, Hurricane Katrina and the largest financial meltdown since the Great Depression. While it is true voters have a short memory, all the slick ads in the world will not dispel the disastrous associations with the Bush name.
On the other end of the Republican presidential spectrum, you have the front-runner, Donald Trump, and his own ubiquitous brand. But unlike the negative connotations of the Bush brand, the Trump name is associated with success, excitement, sincerity and being a winner. It is easy to see why Republican voters are shunning the Bush brand for that of Trump’s.
The candidate that once talked about being “his own man” has now fully embraced the family brand. Why Jeb and the campaign intelligentsia have done such a complete reversal from the original, sound campaign strategy is a mystery to all. It seems like a sign of desperation; a Hail Mary pass. It is abundantly clear to all but the group gathered in Houston that Jeb will not secure the Republican presidential nomination as long as he is wearing the same brand as one of the worst presidents in modern history … the Bush brand.
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