For a few months now, Jeb Bush's campaign has been insisting that the Jeb! Comeback is on, and that the media should get in on the ground floor of this amazing narrative. Will he do it in tonight's New Hampshire primary or nah? Here's how the comeback is going.
Tonight, as results from the New Hampshire primary roll in, Americans will be at the edge of their seats, waiting to see if things will finally start happening for Jeb Bush. Will he rise, like a phoenix, from the Granite State, renewed and bound for the nomination?
With his few remaining breaths as a candidate, however, Bush may have a path out from his debacle, an actual shot at the nomination. For months, he tried and failed to crush Sen. Marco Rubio. But he wielded the hatchet like a man who would rather be sailing. What he needed was a wingman. Last night, Gov. Chris Christie, with his bully’s instinct for weakness, baited the golden boy into choking—thereby, relieving Bush of all the throbbing pressure to stage a miraculous New Hampshire comeback.
As Republicans scrounge for their center-right tribune, they will find themselves coming full circle. Christie has no cash and no organization beyond New Hampshire. Kasich is out-of-synch with his party; his moderation won’t play outside a few suburban pockets. Which only leaves one.
Jeb: the tribune!
And the Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe agrees ... somewhat:
Something has clicked for Bush in New Hampshire in the past few days. What has transpired by no means guarantees him a top-tier finish in Tuesday’s Republican primary here, but the crowds turning out to see him are bigger, his delivery on the stump is crisper and some of his key rivals have stumbled. At the least, the developments have mostly silenced talk of a hasty exit and skittish donors.
Jeb: now 50 percent more adequate!
But has that talk actually been silenced? Here's the scoop, according to ABC News' Candace Smith:
Many, including some of Bush’s own advisers, believe New Hampshire is his final stand, his last opportunity to prove to the Republican establishment and his powerful donor base that he is a viable candidate who has a shot in future primaries.
Some of his backers fear tonight could be the end of the line. But it’s just as plausible that New Hampshire could be the beginning of Bush's second wind.
Jeb: umm ... really, really plausible!
Finally, let's check in with former Florida House Speaker and Bush-backer Will Weatherford:
"He's the Jeb we all know and love," former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford said here Monday evening. "He's very loose. And when he's loose, he's on fire."
"This is a real movement," Weatherford argued. "It's taken a while to catch on. And you know what — cream always rises, and sometimes it rises late. He's getting better every day."
Jeb: a loose, flammable cream!
Anyway, you watch, this will all probably turn out to be good news for John Kasich.
This has been the Jeb! Comeback Watch for Feb. 9. Jeb Bush finished in sixth place in Iowa (2.8 percent). He is currently in fifth place in New Hampshire (10.2 percent), fourth place in South Carolina (8.7 percent), and fifth place nationally (4.7 percent).
Jason Linkins edits "Eat The Press" for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast, "So, That Happened." Subscribe here. Listen to the latest episode below.