Hey Jeb: Before you talk about my 'fall,' try getting as far as I got

Headshot image of Herman Cain
Published by: Herman Cain on Monday November 30th, 2015

Big talk from Mr. 5.5 percent.

Someone should tell Jeb Bush that I’ve accepted an invitation to speak at Donald Trump’s rally this coming Monday in Georgia. I accepted for a simple reason: He asked. But Gov. Bush seems weirdly interested these days in the connection – if only in his own mind – between what he thinks happened to me and what he thinks is going to happen to Trump.

I’ve heard this one before, of course. Herman Cain was leading the 2012 primary race only to “flame out,” and the same thing is going to happen to Trump. This is how Bush tried to reassure disappointed supporters this past Monday, invoking “the fall of Herman Cain”:

Jeb Bush cited the rise and fall of 2012 GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain as he sought to reassure supporters at a Longboat Key fundraiser Monday that their faith in him is well placed.

By noting that Cain led in the polls at this point in 2012 only to flame out, Bush implied that current GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson could follow the same path.

I’m sure his supporters were really reassured by this. Hey, don’t worry that I’m way behind and gaining no ground whatsoever, but there was once this one guy who led and didn’t win.

So let’s talk about this. In late October 2011, the polls had me leading the Republican race for president with 24 percent. After that, of course, I was the target of accusations that I’ve already explained were complete B.S., and you can read about that if you want to here. This precipitated my fall in the polls to the point where, by late November, I was in third place and polling at 14 percent. This is when I decided to leave the race because the turn it had taken was imposing too much hardship on my family.

But there’s a reason I bring up these numbers. At the height of my campaign I was in first place at 24 percent. Even when I left the race I was in third place at 14 place. Who am I? A guy who ran a pizza company and had a successful corporate career before hosting a talk show in Atlanta. I was not anonymous but I was hardly famous.

Who is Jeb Bush? He is the former governor of Florida and he has one of the most famous political last names in America. He has more political money behind him than any candidate in this race with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton. And how is he doing in the polls? The current Real Clear Politics average shows him in fifth place at 5.5 percent.

If you want to say I had a “fall,” go ahead, I guess. You can’t fall when you’ve never gotten any higher than the floor in the first place, and that’s the state of the Jeb Bush campaign. A guy with his name, his money and the team behind him should be one of the top-tier contenders, and he should certainly not be letting Donald Trump wipe the floor with him if Trump is as unserious and unqualified as Bush would have you believe.

And yet, Jeb Bush can’t break out of the middle single-digits.

As for the suggestion that Donald Trump and Ben Carson will surely flame out because Herman Cain did, you’ll probably not be surprised that I’m getting a little tired of that one. But I would tell you two things.

First, I was and remain proud of what my campaign accomplished. No, we didn’t get to the finish line, but most of the people who run me down have never gotten anywhere near as far as we did – and as I mentioned above, that certainly includes Jeb Bush.

Second, it’s a different year, and Donald Trump is a different guy. I realize that the Bush political cabal may see all icky outsiders as the same, and thus assume that all will have the same fate. I wouldn’t bet on that. Trump is very smart, has done his homework and has learned a lot from what happened in many previous campaigns – including mine. He’s stayed atop the polls a lot longer than I did, and his rivals haven’t accomplished much by sitting around invoking whatever it is that they think happened to me.

But if I were to give Jeb Bush a piece of advice – not that he probably thinks he needs any from me – it would be to focus on coming up with a rationale for a Jeb Bush presidency. To date, I haven’t heard one that’s got many people very excited. And to judge from the polls, 94.5 percent of Republican primary voters agree with me.

Even if Trump does come back to the pack at some point, there are other candidates much better positioned to pick up support because they’re much more appealing than Mr. Famous Political Name. And really, when you haven’t come anywhere close to what some pizza guy once did, you sound pretty desperate trying to use the pizza guy as your defense.

At least I was once winning. Jeb Bush has been doing nothing but losing throughout this entire campaign. His problem is him.