Jeb Bush's presidential campaign is facing a full-blown existential crisis.
The former Florida governor's attempt to revive his White House hopes during Wednesday's Republican debate by taking on his former protege, Sen. Marco Rubio, backfired badly.
nstead, he delivered a performance drained of passion, fire and inspiration followed by a testy post-game interview that added up to a disastrous night for Bush.
Bush was already struggling going into the debate -- grappling with low poll numbers and a weak base in early voting states.
But his performance only confirmed and deepened damning perceptions of his political skills and questions about his stomach for the fight. And Bush is already trying to stave off the stench of decay that quickly gathers around losing campaigns.
"I think his campaign is on life support," said Ford O' Connell, a Republican political consultant not currently affiliated with a 2016 presidential candidate.
[M]any observers believe Bush might be a victim of poor timing and that his problems could therefore be insurmountable.
"In a lot of other cycles, Jeb could have run and won, but given the sort of groundswell for political outsiders and the ghosts of his last name, it is just very tough," said O'Connell.
"No matter what he says, he either comes across as privileged or entitled -- he just doesn't seem to be able to overcome it."