SUMMERVILLE, S.C. -- For Jeb Bush, the crushing phone call came Wednesday afternoon.
It was Nikki Haley, South Carolina’s wildly popular governor and Republican Party darling. She had decided to endorse a candidate ahead of Saturday’s GOP presidential primary.
Not Bush — even though his brother, former President George W. Bush, paid her a deferential visit Monday. Instead, Haley backed Jeb Bush’s fiercest primary rival, Marco Rubio.
Moments later, Bush was due at a campaign event at the Summerville Country Club, northwest of Charleston. He showed up in shirtsleeves, no tie — and, now that he’s realized they aged him, no glasses — and grabbed the microphone, uttering not one word of the Haley news.
But Bush was suddenly edgy, speaking with new urgency three days before the “first in the South” primary that helped seal his father’s and brother’s nominations — but where Bush is battling for third or fourth place.
“On Saturday, y’all can make a choice of who you want to have in the Oval Office, the sacred ground of the White House,” Bush said. “The leader of the free world. That’s who you’re selecting.”
Clearly frustrated, Bush added: “I’ve got more detailed plans than you know what to do with!”
But that’s not enough, and Bush knows it. Which is why, for the second time in a single day, he pounded Rubio as an inexperienced, first-term “back-bench” U.S. senator too green for the job. Rubio has poked Bush repeatedly in recent days for having “no foreign policy experience.”
Photo credit: Andrew Harnik, AP