Jeb Bush's Closing Statement At The GOP Debate Had A Lot Riding On It — And He Failed

With recent national polls showing him dropping into the single-digits after a year of fumbled campaigning, there was a lot riding on Jeb Bush's closing statement at the sixth Republican presidential debate in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Thursday. Early shows of support for the former Florida governor have tapered off as rival Donald Trump successfully chipped away at a larger and larger chunk of voters, leaving Bush polling at a meager 4 percent nationally.

But despite proving wrong the critics who'd claimed each previous debate was his last, Bush struggled during Thursday night to make the kind of big impact his campaign likely needs for a rebound as post-debate analysis predictably features the night's more vocal candidates: Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. In fact, Bush remained quiet enough that many were left wondering: Where's Jeb? NPR's analysis of the amount of speaking time allotted to each candidate show Bush clocked just 10 seconds more time than Ohio Gov. John Kasich to rank fifth in talk time.

The former Florida governor spoke most strongly — and most often — about his foreign policy proposals during Thursday's debate. Bush advocated for renewed sanctions on Iran, increased military spending, and moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in a symbolic show of support for the Israeli government. Due to a Palestinian claim on Jerusalem, the city is not recognized internationally as Israel's capital and the majority of nations have their embassies in Tel Aviv.

The former governor sought to recapture some of the limelight he enjoyed in the early months of his presidential campaign when he argued his case for putting a third Bush in the Oval Office during his final moments Thursday.

Who can you count on to keep us safer, stronger, and freer? Results count and as governor I pushed Florida up to the top in terms of jobs, income, and small business growth. Detailed plans count and I believe that the plan I've laid out to destroy ISIS before the tragedies of San Bernardino and Paris are the right ones. Credibility counts. There'll be people here that will talk about what they're going to do. I've done it. I ask for your support to build, together, a safer and stronger America.

Bush's decision to rehash a theme of experience that his campaign has long touted with little success is unlikely to push his numbers up in the polls following Thursday's debate.

Bush is expected to return to New Hampshire following the debate to continue campaigning in the state his team appears to be putting all of its eggs in. A fundraiser and a speaking engagement at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York next week will most likely move the candidate closer to the Iowa caucus without much fanfare or media buzz.