If you spent Wednesday night watching the World Series instead of the Republican presidential debate, there was an easy way to figure out which candidates did well and which ones didn’t: Listen to the next-day spin.
The candidates who did well were boasting about their chances. One of those who did not, on the other hand, had this to say about his campaign Thursday: “It’s not on life-support.”
That’s the unfortunate spot where Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor (and former 2016 front-runner), finds himself after a dismal performance at the debate in Boulder, Colo.
Bush needed a moment. His campaign’s fundraising has lagged over the past three months, forcing him to cut staff salaries even as polling suggests that he is falling further behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the race’s unlikely co-leaders.
And he did get his moment — but not the kind he wanted. Twenty minutes into the debate, Bush turned to Sen. Marco Rubio, his onetime protege turned main rival, and attacked. Bush asked why Rubio had missed so many Senate votes. “What is it, like a French workweek?” he “joked.” “You get, like, three days where you have to show up?”
Rubio pounced, saying the only reason Bush was going after him now was “because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
The crowd at the University of Colorado went bananas, drowning out Bush’s retort, which I imagine was something like: “Oh, yeah? Well, the jerk store called and they’re running out of you.”
Bush seemed shellshocked by the whole now-the-student-has-become-the-master thing and never recovered. He spent the next 24 hours beating back questions about whether he would remain in the race, a remarkable shift for someone who was widely considered the odds-on favorite to win the nomination when he entered the contest.
Jeb Bush, for insisting that everything is fine when everything is most definitely not fine, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Each week, Chris Cillizza awards the worst week in Washington to an inhabitant of Planet Beltway who stands out for all the wrong reasons. You can check out previous winners or e-mail Cillizza with candidates. You can also read more from Outlook and follow our updates on Facebook and Twitter.