Dan Riehl of Breitbart.com shared the substance of a recent interview with Pat Caddell in which he said, “Cruz’s or Trump’s election would be a shock to the system.”
Caddell continued, “We are seeing the transformation of the paradigm of politics. All the old rules are failing. All the old assumptions don’t work. And we have a new set of assumptions evolving. And we have a public that no longer seems to want to eat the dog food that the establishment has dished out and are, in fact, going for choices that are outside the boxes of our ordinary politics.”
Nine months ago the conventional wisdom was that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton would win election easily. “The country,” Caddell noted, “is saying we want something different. And we want to take back…most importantly, reclaiming our sovereignty. People seem to have gone from being passive observers to active participants.” Caddell believes that many people who usually don’t vote will come out this election cycle.
Byron York, Chief Political Correspondent for The Washington Examiner, attended the rally in North Charleston, SC Monday night. Former president George W. Bush and wife Laura were the star attraction in an effort to boost Jeb’s floundering campaign.
York interviewed 41 attendees. I gathered from his report that most were there to see the former president who is beloved by South Carolinians. As he interviewed them it became obvious that their love for W doesn’t transfer to his brother Jeb.
When York asked whether, looking back, going to war in Iraq was a mistake, seventeen said yes, it was a mistake. Seventeen said no, it was not a mistake. And seven said some variation of, "It's complicated."
Many of those who said the war was a mistake took care to add that they thought W did the best he could with the information he had at the time. Many of those who said it wasn't a mistake said they don't necessarily approve of it today, as they look back, but they don't want to apply 20/20 hindsight and criticize a decision made 15 years ago. Some blamed today's mess on Barack Obama. In other words, no matter what they said, they were inclined to cut W some slack.
Some of the "It's complicated" people seemed truly torn by the question. In the end, he came away with the impression that most of them didn't really disagree with each other very much. Some of them leaned a little more to the "mistake" side than others, but none of them were in a mood to blame the former president sitting on the stage.
South Carolina Republicans place a lot of value on loyalty. Many have supported the Bush family over the years, and they'll always feel warmly toward any candidate named Bush. But their feelings about Jeb just don't rise to the level of their devotion to W. It's hard to imagine that changing in the few days left before the South Carolina primary.
During last Saturday’s GOP debate, Marco Rubio responded to Donald Trump’s statement that “the World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Don’t forget that.” During the heated exchange between Bush and Trump, Marco Rubio said, “I just want to say, at least on behalf of me and my family, I thank God all the time it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore. And you can—I think you can look back in hindsight and say a couple of things, but he kept us safe. And not only did he keep us safe, but no matter what you want to say about weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was in violation of UN resolutions, in open violation, and the world wouldn’t do anything about it, and George W. Bush enforced what the international community refused to do. And again, he kept us safe, and I am forever grateful to what he did for this country.”
I believe, just as many others do, that Rubio’s response was not intended to answer Trump’s charge but was a play for the Jeb vote.
Jeb’s polling numbers are in single digits. He’s shown no inclination to drop out of the race and may be stubborn or prideful enough to stick it out until after Super Tuesday when Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia all go to the polls.
Former president Bush’s appearance in South Carolina seemed more like Jebland giving itself permission to say to his supporters “we did all we could”.