Rubio is the abyss? Rubio is staring at the abyss -- and the abyss is his prepared remarks? Your interpretation is probably as good as mine.
But shockingly, Jeb Bush, of all people, is doing a passable imitation of an alpha male. He's stolen one of the more successful pages from the Rubio playbook and is declaring that, if you really think about it, his fourth-place finish in New Hampshire was actually a victory. This is from The Hill:
Jeb Bush on Tuesday night touted his showing, now just 0.3 percentage points out of a tie for third place, as a win.They're shouting his name! His own supporters! At his own rally! That must be a positive omen!
“Last Monday night, when the Iowa caucuses were complete, they said the race was now a three-person race between two present senators and a reality TV star,” the former Florida governor told a group of supporters at his primary watch party here....
The largely sedate crowd perked up when Bush took the stage, chanting "Jeb" when Bush bashed his Democratic and Republican rivals.
“And while the reality TV star is still doing well, it looks like you all have reset things.”
“We need someone who can defeat Hillary Clinton,” Bush told the crowd, again motivating his supporters to shout his name.
Meanwhile a Politico story by Alex Isenstadt tells us that Jeb's campaign is going to turn nasty:
Bush plans scorched-earth attack on Kasich, RubioNow, none of that sounds particularly nasty -- personally, I don't think you have to be a particularly tough guy to threaten John Kasich, or, post-robot, even Marco Rubio -- but Isenstadt has clearly swallowed the Bush campaign's spin. If Jeb has the media thinking he's tough and nasty, that's half the battle.
Jeb Bush is already laying the groundwork for a brutal South Carolina campaign against establishment rivals John Kasich and Marco Rubio.
In an internal memo circulated late Tuesday evening, the campaign distributed talking points to top campaign aides and surrogates, highlighting lines of attack they plan to take against both candidates.
The memo suggests that Kasich, who campaigned extensively in New Hampshire, does not have a realistic path to winning the Republican nomination.
“Governor Kasich has little to no chance in South Carolina, and does not have a national organization that can compete,” the memo says. “Kasich has consistently supported gutting the military and has no viable path in the Palmetto State.”
The memo also outlines hard-hitting avenues of attack against Rubio, who for months has been in Bush’s crosshairs: “Senator Rubio has lost momentum and has been exposed as completely unprepared to be president,” it says, repeating an argument that Bush has used frequently against Rubio.
It adds: “Rubio has demonstrated no respect for the nomination process and expects this to be a coronation.”
Now that he's left perhaps the only state in America where being a nebbish will actually win you Republican primary votes, maybe he should leave the campaign trail altogether and just let his attack ads and surrogates do the job for him. Maybe Chris Christie will quit the race and be a Thug for Jeb. The press really might start writing Jeb comeback stories if Wincing Jeb himself doesn't get in the way.
And then there's George W. and his new radio ad for Jeb, with this text:
This is President George W. Bush. We live in troubled times with the military deployed around the world. We need a strong leader with experience, ideas and resolve. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jeb Bush will be a great commander-in-chief for our military. Jeb has dealt with crises as the governor of Florida, and he did so with steadiness, and a calmness necessary in a good leader. He respects the military -- he honors their families. He can make the tough decision to keep Americans safe and our country free. And in a time of crisis, he will be a steady hand.Who knows? Maybe that will play in South Carolina and, after that, in other Southern states. But if I were Jeb I'd try to go for the notion that "they" don't want "us" to acknowledge what a great commander in chief W. was, something Jeb will say even though it's "politically incorrect." Given the GOP electorate's addiction to self-righteous rage, it just might work.