Struggling Jeb Bush Enjoys Larger Crowds

Jeb Bush is low in the polls but is experiencing something new: growing crowds.

The former Florida governor drew his largest crowd in recent memory when he hosted a town hall in Hilton Head, South Carolina, Saturday night, with 530 people in attendance, according to the fire marshal. 

Bush typically draws between 100 and 200 people at his town halls so staffers had to search for extra seats. It was the fourth night in a row that Bush aides had to find more seats for a larger-than-expected crowd during a packed swing through New Hampshire and South Carolina -- two states that Bush is counting on to propel his beleaguered campaign forward. 

The question is whether last week marked the beginning of 'Jebmentum' or if it's simply an illustration of a more engaged electorate as the primary season gets underway.

Bush's campaign is still mulling whether it can gin up more enthusiasm by bringing out former President George W. Bush on the campaign trail in support of his brother. The 43rd president now has a 77% approval rating among Republicans, according to a Bloomberg Politics poll in November.

Talking to reporters, Bush was asked Saturday night whether he was using his family to its full potential, given the reverence that his supporters express about them at events.

And in a state like South Carolina, which was good for his brother and his dad in their presidential runs, an appearance by George W. Bush might be a wise Hail Mary for Jeb Bush's campaign, said Republican strategist Ford O'Connell. 

"Right now he's running out of things to deploy so I think he's willing to throw the kitchen sink at the wall to make it happen," O'Connell said.

"For as maligned as 'W' is in the mainstream media, a lot of conservatives have a soft spot for him," he continued. "It would be about generating buzz but also about generating trust. If anyone has been mauled on this campaign cycle, it's been Jeb. You can't go 15 minutes without Trump mentioning his name, without talk radio mentioning him as a side joke."

Read more from Ashley Killough at CNN

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment


Analysis & Political Strategy