In response to pressure from donors, Jeb Bush’s 2016 campaign is downsizing, starting with a whopping 45% budget cut (exclusive of cash earmarked for TV buys and voter contact via phone calls, mailers, and other avenues.) The campaign has also cut its payroll by 40%; some senior staff will stay on on a volunteer basis, while some junior staffers and consultants will be let go entirely. Bush has also opted to downsize his Miami headquarters and shift more resources into New Hampshire, where he is currently polling in third place.
More from Bloomberg:
One Bush adviser told Bloomberg Politics in an interview Friday morning that the team was “unapologetic” about the changes, saying the moves were from a “position of strength.” “This is about winning the race,” the adviser said. “We’re doing it now and making the shifts with confidence. We expect to win.”
Bush plans to continue to focus on a core message that argues that he has experience to make the kinds of fundamental changes voters want to see in Washington. The campaign changes reflect that, an adviser said.
The campaign claims to have the most extensive field operation in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, states with the first four nominating contests. Bush had $10.3 million available for the primary race as of Oct. 1, about the same as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, but less than U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson. Right to Rise USA, the super-PAC being run by Mike Murphy, raised $103 million in the first six months of the year.
Still, Bush hasn’t given up. This weekend he’ll bust out the big guns—in the form of his father, brothers, and sons—and attempt to woo the deep pockets of family friends in Texas.
From the Texas Tribune:
Jeb Bush’s father and brother — former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, respectively — will be on hand over the weekend in Houston to thank the campaign’s top bundlers. Also expected to attend are Jeb Bush’s two sons, Jeb Bush Jr. and George P. Bush, the Texas land commissioner. Jeb Bush bundlers who raised a certain amount — at least $50,000 by some accounts — were expected to attend the gathering.
Via email, Jeb Bush’s campaign is also asking supporters to give $1 or more to be entered for the chance to travel to Houston next week and meet George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. The campaign described the contest as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you’ll be talking about 20 years from now.”
Taken together, the string of finance events serve as a reminder that Jeb Bush’s fundraising machine in Texas is still heavily reliant upon a family network with deep ties to the state. The flurry of campaign activity in Houston comes about two weeks after Jeb Bush’s campaign voluntarily released a list of its top 342 bundlers, 38 of whom are from Texas. They include many names already associated with the Bushes in the Lone Star State: former state Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas, Tyler oil and gas attorney Gaylord Hughey, El Paso real estate developer Woody Hunt, Houston pipeline tycoon Rich Kinder and his wife, Nancy, Texas congressman-turned-lobbyist Tom Loeffler, Fort Worth philanthropist Kit Moncrief and Warren Tichenor, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
According to the Trib, Bush will appear at a variety of additional fundraising events early in the week, and is already planning stops next month in the big money cities of Midland and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Earlier this week, Megyn Kelly asked Bush, “What would it take to make you get out?” Bush’s answer was confident, but he did admit that it hasn’t been an easy time.
“I’m not getting out. I believe we have a plan to be very competitive in the early states. We have the resources to stay with this,” Bush told Kelly. “I’m campaigning hard, I’m campaigning with heart, I’m campaigning in a way that will draw people towards our cause.”
“This is the beginning of a hard race. I never thought it would be easy and it certainly hasn’t been. … I believe that I’m gonna win the nomination,” he said.
Bush went on to rebuff questions on Donald Trump’s steady popularity.
A quick scan of my Twitter timeline soon after this was announced told me that the majority of the chattering class sees this as a death knell for a campaign that, at least in my opinion, probably never should have launched. I’ve been in a room with Jeb Bush on multiple occasions; I’ve seen him in his element. Based on that previous knowledge, nothing I’ve seen so far this cycle has convinced me that Jeb Bush wants to be president.
Unfortunately for his supporters, it looks as though the campaign world has finally caught on to that fact.
You can read a full rundown of the changes to Bush’s campaign here.
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