Jeb Bush on Friday belatedly conceded what has been evident for months: He's an underdog with foggy prospects.
Languishing in single digits for months — only good enough for middle of the pack in national and early primary state polls, the former two-term Florida governor and son and brother of the last two Republican presidents finally pulled the plug on a campaign strategy that was built for a front-runner who was steamrolling the competition. Bush described the shift as going "lean and mean and I have the ability to adapt."
The move was remarkable for a contender who was immediately anointed the candidate to beat upon entering the 2016 sweepstakes last December and whose mere presence prompted political insiders to assume that others, particularly Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, would take a pass on the race for fear of being unable to mount a successful campaign. Now, the doubters are staring at Bush and questioning claims that his candidacy is salvageable.
"There are very few examples of a campaign of that magnitude cutting back and ultimately regaining their footing," said a veteran Republican strategist, who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly.