It wasn't the night Jeb Bush and his supporters envisioned last June, when he was the early GOP front runner, but after a sixth place showing in Iowa, a top-five finish is a step in the right direction. Bush appeared energized as he took the stage at Manchester Community College to address his supporters.
"When the Iowa Caucuses were complete, they said the race was now a three-person race between two freshman senators and a reality TV star," Bush said. "And while the reality TV star is still doing well, it looks like you all have reset the race, and for that I'm really grateful."
But building on tonight's momentum will take an even stronger showing in South Carolina—next up on the primary calendar—and Bush is hoping he has an ace in the hole with that state's senior senator and former 2016 presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, who was in Manchester tonight.
"Jeb Bush is the most conservative electable person in this race," Graham said.
And Graham says Bush has another thing going for him among voters—including evangelicals—in the Palmetto State.
"The Bush family name is long and deep in South Carolina," Graham said. "Forty-one and 43 are well respected. The Bush family have been generations of servants. That will matter in my state."
We'll find out if it matters enough to help Bush break away from the establishment pack on February 20.