On Tuesday evening I wrote about attending a Marco Rubio rally. I explained that I showed up for the experience, not the politics. I had the opportunity to see how a political rally is conducted, listen to some naturally great speakers, and meet Senator Rubio himself. It was a good evening.
Partaking in the 2016 South Carolina presidential primary madness that night was interesting. In fact, it was so interesting that I was hungry for more. So, naturally, I attended the Jeb Bush rally here in Myrtle Beach the very next evening.
Look, I know Jeb Bush has had a rough go with his campaign. He was expected to steamroll his way to the nomination only to embarrassingly underperform. The amount of money he has spent and the lack of results he has achieved is well-documented. Donald Trump has ruined the poor guy, labeling him as “low energy” and taking out his social media ire on him. In a last ditch effort to change his image, Jeb has recently stopped wearing glasses. He is still far behind in the South Carolina polls.
So, why would I attend a political rally for Jeb Bush, someone who clearly isn’t going places?
Well, besides what I said above about wanting to continue to experience the South Carolina primary process, I can give you two other major reasons:
1. I literally live five minutes away from where Jeb spoke.
2. I was holding out hope that his brother would speak.
With Jeb speaking at the Springmaid Beach Resort (the location I go to all the time when I visit the beach), it was a short drive to attend. Also, the realistic hope that George W. Bush might introduce his brother, like he did in Charleston on Monday, was a great motivator. I have never had the privilege of listening to a President of the United States speak before so it would have been a huge bucket list item for me (I have a thing for U.S. Presidents).
Well, at least the drive was brief as advertised.
Although I didn’t get to see a former U.S. President speak, I did get to see another U.S. Senator say a few words. Senator Lindsey Graham, a guy who was also a presidential candidate, introduced Jeb. It was neat to see the other senator speak after I listened to Tim Scott on Wednesday. Unfortunately Graham’s speech didn’t go as smoothly.
First off, he didn’t speak until around 6:50 p.m. (the event was supposed to start at 6:30 p.m.). Senator Graham and a couple other people took the stage randomly to no fanfare. You could tell Graham was tired as he spoke. In a bizarre moment right in the middle of a sentence, Jeb Bush poked his head out from the dividers serving as the backdrop and strolled out. It caught Senator Graham by surprise and he reacted by quickly turning it over to Jeb.
I am going to criticize Bush and then build him up a bit. When he started his stump it was pretty sad. He looked more tired than Lindsey Graham, he didn’t speak with much emotion, and he was having trouble actually saying words. He looked exactly like the defeated candidate Trump and others have made him out to be. Sitting right next to me, Sid sent me a text saying “He sure isn’t like Rubio.”
But after about 20 minutes, Jeb got a little better. We were in a hotel conference room, probably half the size as the Rubio venue and with half as many people. But it was full and Bush was surrounded with supporters. Something clicked and he finished his stump on a better note than what he started it on.
When his speech ended, the charismatic side of Jeb Bush came out as he started taking questions from the audience (the event was billed as a town hall). Even though he never really answered completely the questions of the people he called on, he seemed to connect with each one. He was just very likeable, something I had not seen at the debates.
During most of the speech and through half of the Q&A, Sidney was looking at her phone. Believe it or not, she was reading Jeb’s platform, specifically his education policies. After about five questions, Sid nudged me and said she was going to ask a question!!
She was passed over twice as she half raised her hand. After that second attempt to grab his attention, one of Bush’s aides said it was time to conclude the event. Bush interjected and said he would take a few more questions. Sure enough, right after he finished answering what was supposed to be the last question, he called on Sidney!! A nervous Sid looked behind her to see if Jeb meant to call on someone else. She then looked at him to clarify that he had called on her.
“Yep, you,” Bush confirmed.
The microphone came to Sid and she graciously thanked Jeb for taking her question. She then asked the one thing that is on every teacher’s mind. The crowd erupted! (**I am not going to get into the dialogue in this post, but you better believe I had my phone out when she asked her question. You can watch Sid ask it and hear half of Jeb’s response by clicking here). Although Jeb never really fully answered Sid’s question he did earn my respect. Not only did he treat Sid well, he also proved that the questions asked in his town halls are authentic. I always wondered if the people asking the questions were planted.
As the event concluded, Sid and I approached the stage. She wanted to thank Jeb for answering (or attempting to) her question. Compared to the Marco Rubio rally, the post event huddle around the candidate was chaos. Whereas Rubio had rope stanchions that gave him space and folks ample room to take photos, Jeb was mobbed with no protection. We did make it up to him but I think the photo describes what type of a scene it was.
There definitely wasn’t the energy at the Bush town hall like there was at the Rubio rally. However, watching Sidney ask that question and hearing the crowd react to it was an awesome moment. We might not have listened to the next President of the United States on Wednesday night but we were treated to another experience I never thought I would have. Don’t Blink.