Jeb! Tries to Strike Back

In an article for CNN “Jeb Bush Looks Back to Go Forward” Stephanie Collinson and Maeve Reston chronicle Jeb Bush’s recent plan to reinvigorate his presidential campaign in the typical election game frame. Marjorie Randon Hershey in “The Campaign and the Media” analyzes game framing journalists, like Collinson and Reston, use to approach election season. According to Hershey, election bias typically emphasizes the candidate’s style of presentation, campaign strategies, experience, personal background, or family (47-48). The game frame Collinson and Reston utilize plays an integral role in how the population judges a candidate whether it be for personality, charm, grace under pressure, intelligence, persistence, or like ability. For example, Jeb Bush has been positioned by the media as a candidate who is out of touch. A fact which has arguably lost him popularity in comparison to his eager, more likable peers. Recent primary polls have reinforced this media frame and generated an overwhelming, perhaps unbeatable audience, perception that Jeb Bush will remain in an avalanche of decline.

In a comment Bush made in the beginning of his attempt to reinvigorate and reorganize his campaign he spoke about Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) 2007 primary recovery when he traveled on Southwest Airlines to save money and carry his own luggage seized him the Republican nomination. The opening statement from Collinson and Reston on McCain and Bush’s game plan, “It will take more than flying Southwest and carrying his own bag to make Jeb Bush the Republican comeback kid” is indicative of the election frame. This introduction plays into the themes Bush has been characterized into so far, as out of touch with a party largely disassociating themselves from Washington.

Media’s pre-existing characterization of Bush being out of touch minimizes his new campaign strategy and instead focuses on his personality using phrases such as “he comes off as impatient, peevish, and annoyed,” his failed attempts to “show passion by aggressively hitting back against Trump,” and finally that he seems“despairing.” In a final demonstration of election bias Hershey describes, Collinson and Reston use the master and apprentice metaphor by positioning Bush against his political protégé Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). In this conflict, they show a disappointing and confused mentor, Bush, who is failing against Rubio’s rising poll numbers even though they each have similar platform on many policy issues.

Overall, the conflict and game frame bias in this article represent what Hershey describes as election framing, a journalistic emphasis on a candidate’s personality, strategy, and competitiveness. Bush was a spectacle and is now, while attempting to reinvigorate a dying campaign, the candidate with the odds stacked strategically against him. Despite Bush trying to convey himself as a fighter, the game frame is perfectly used in this piece describing him as more of a relic than a contender. The current, developed frame that Bush is out of touch is reinforced, proving how difficult it is to defeat the pre-existing frames media create about a candidate.

Jeb! Tries to Strike Back

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