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Jeb’s Six-Step Strategy to Salvage His Campaign

Jeb’s Six-Step Strategy to Salvage His Campaign

Double down on failed strategies and remind everyone it’s his turn

There has been a lot of speculation about whether or not Jeb Bush wants to be president.  He doesn’t seem to have that “fire in his belly” that his brother so often demonstrated on the campaign trail, and he didn’t seem to be very interested in his campaign at the outset beyond the massive fundraising efforts and trying to win support from the traditional GOPe “king makers.”  This, actually, is what convinces me that Jeb does want to be president; he’s just doing it the old, tired way, a way that simply doesn’t work as traditional venues for political campaigns simply don’t have the same audience share (and thus power) they once did.  It also doesn’t help that the Republican primary voters are fed up with—and actively rebelling against—the traditional “it’s your turn now” approach to GOP candidates for president.

Jeb and his campaign have a tried a number of strategies to help salvage his campaign, but from cutting staff to clumsy and awkward attacks on Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, his campaign quickly moved from tragedy to farce.

With the new year, Jeb seems to be planning a new series of steps to salvage his campaign.  The New York Times reports that “aides to Mr. Bush and important allies described a long-shot plan to pull off what seems all but impossible: winning the Republican nomination for president. The plan has six elements.”

STAY ON THE ATTACK In late 2015, Mr. Bush called Donald J. Trump “a jerk,” “unhinged” and a “chaos candidate.”  Expect more of the same in 2016, when Mr. Bush plans to aim his most aggressive attacks largely at Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton. Though he was initially slow to take on Mr. Trump, the real estate billionaire turned politician has proved a useful foil. Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, has cast himself as the only Republican strong enough to stand up to Mr. Trump.

I’m not sure what they are thinking here.  Jeb’s attacks on Rubio and on Trump don’t move his poll numbers (unless you count downward), and they actually make him look petty and petulant (he gets a bit shrill and precious when he’s talking about Trump being “unserious”).  The problem, I think, is that Jeb is personally offended not by Trump but by the American people’s (or at least GOP primary voters’) rejection of him in favor of someone whom he genuinely sees as “unhinged” and “chaotic.”

It’s his turn, after all, don’t we know that?  That shrill whining tone that creeps into his voice when he attacks the other candidates comes across as that of a child who has had his favorite toy taken away, not as serious attacks by a balanced, mature man who wishes to be president.


Doubling down on a demonstrably faulty tactic strikes me as less than clever.

AVOID EMBARRASSMENT IN IOWA Mr. Bush knows he is not likely to win Iowa. He just can’t lose there too badly.

In Iowa, Mr. Bush has two main goals: to finish no lower than fifth (third place is the optimistic goal) and, more important, to beat Mr. Christie.

It’s too late for that.  Anything less than a first place win there simply wasn’t conceivable when Jeb launched his campaign early (with the shock and awe of a massive war chest and major backers).  That he’s hopeful for fifth is . . . kind of sad.

DO WELL IN NEW HAMPSHIRE Did somebody say “town hall”?

Expect Mr. Bush to practically move to New Hampshire, the state where loyal donors are expecting a turnaround, and where Mr. Bush’s strategists believe he needs to finish ahead of Mr. Christie, Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio and Mr. Rubio to emerge as the establishment’s alternative to Mr. Trump or Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

The campaign has five offices and 20 paid staff members throughout the state, with 20 more coming this month. Mr. Bush plans to spend at least half of his time there, with trips every week before the Feb. 9 primary, and he recently called it his “second home.”

He has a better shot at doing passably well in New Hampshire than in Iowa, so this strikes me as a good move.

WOO LINDSEY GRAHAM Throughout the campaign, Mr. Bush had made a point of texting Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina weekly, just to check in. On the morning Mr. Graham dropped out of the race for president, Mr. Bush was ready with the hard sell.

Mr. Bush immediately sent him a message, and the two men spoke on the phone later that day, when Mr. Bush made his pitch — that he was the best prepared to be commander in chief and the most qualified on Mr. Graham’s main issue, national security.

Because what we learned from the now-defunct Graham campaign is that Republican primary voters just love him.

USE THE FAMILY NETWORK Another key for Mr. Bush in South Carolina is his older brother, former President George W. Bush.

Though no final decision has been made, aides say the campaign is most likely to deploy the former president in the state — where he remains popular — sometime after the New Hampshire primary.

But how and where to use the 43rd president is a vexing question for the campaign. George Bush is certain to remind voters that his brother hails from a political dynasty. And he could force Jeb Bush to confront the decision to invade Iraq, an issue the candidate stumbled over early on. Aides further worry that the former president, a charismatic and agile campaigner, could outshine his brother on the stump.

Remind voters already reluctant to back a dynasty and quick to quote Jeb’s own mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, as saying, “We’ve had enough Bushes” when asked whether Jeb should even run?  These ideas just seem completely out of touch with what real voters are thinking . . . or want.

Watch Mark Steyn discuss this very point in terms of monarchy:

CONTINUE THE AD BLITZ Mr. Bush’s super PAC has so far spent tens of millions on television ads that have largely failed to help his standing in the polls. But the group will continue the ad campaign, keeping its focus on Mr. Trump, but also beginning to contrast Mr. Bush with his rivals for the party’s more mainstream base.

Right to Rise has started a voter identification and canvassing program in New Hampshire, and in addition to television ads, it is putting money behind radio, mail and digital in the early states, including some in the March 1 primary, which includes several Southern states. The group also already reserved a nearly $17 million television ad purchase for the March states.

Because the multiple millions he and his PAC’s have already spent have successfully moved him to 4%?  Again, it’s hard to fathom what they are thinking over at Jeb HQ.

I see nothing in this strategy that has any hope of success.  The only thing that will help Jeb now is if Trump and Cruz on the anti-establishment side and Rubio and Christie on the establishment side all crash and burn in the next 30 days.  And that doesn’t seem at all likely.


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You are mistaken on one point. Jeb want’s to be President.
He just doesn’t want to do the work he needs to to become President.

Avoiding Lindsey Graham would be a better strategy. That is, if Jeb wants to attract Republican voters.

Jeb would make a great Democrat, by the way.

    Olinser in reply to Same Same. | January 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Remember, Jeb is the idiot that said he didn’t need conservatives to win.

    Anybody with a quarter of a functioning brain knew Jeb! had no shot at being the Republican candidate, never mind the President.

    dystopia in reply to Same Same. | January 3, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Jeb is one of those transgendered Republicans. A Republican who really wants to dress up as a Democrat.

“My daddy was president. My big brother was president. And now it’s my turn, right mama?”

    He thinks he’s Hillary ‘It’s My Turn – Again’ Clinton.

    George H.W. Bush was a crappy president – he had Reagan’s American handed to him, and he lost the next election to Clinton. Clinton rode Reagan’s coattails throughout his presidency and swept crap under the rug for the next president (can you say, ‘Islamic terror?’) George W. Bush (9/11 military action aside) was effectively a liberal guided by a jackass who was the classic example of the Peter Principle (Karl Rove) – both these bozos effectively gave us ‘Barack Hussein Obama.’

    The electorate doesn’t want another Bush. The left is going to find out no one want another Clinton — especially not a shrill, corrupt, incompetent unhealthy old crow like Hillary Clinton.

Hey, the PLAN is to LOSE to Hillary anyway. The Uniparty is all set to keep it’s power and perks by eliminating any opposition. More Ryan and Reid passing everything the democratic socialists want. Amnesty, trillions of dollars of handouts to “big biz” and everybody is happy except the PEONS that have to PAY for the CORRUPTION!

Well said Professor. The one thing about Jebra’s attacks on Mr. Trump that does bother me is when he says “He will never be president or will never be nominee” That is the only attack that doesn’t always cone across smarmy and made up. He says it with a smirk on his face like he has inside info that the fix is in against Mr. Trump. He says it like the asshole rich kid Fraternity president who knows his daddy has put the fix is in with the college Dean.

    HandyGandy in reply to Gary Britt. | January 2, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    Hopefully it’s the guy who thought the fix was in.
    It’s becoming clear that he cannot win the nomination without some major rigging of the process. The question is can it be so rigged?
    I don’t think so, but remember Mississippi!

How about these six steps:

1. Remind the conservative base why he doesn’t need their votes.

2. Remind us that he has ‘a lot of cool things’ he’d rather be doing instead of running for president.

3. Stand on his tippy toes more often.

4. Pick his nose less often.

5. Get it off his chest some more, and call Donald Trump a jerk again in a whiny voice.

6. Continue focusing on his cat fights with all of the various third-tier candidates.

7. Remind people that: “I’m the tortoise in the race. But I’m a joyful tortoise.”

8. Remind people that: “I feel much better back here” in fifth place polling single digits than I did as frontrunner.

9. And for God’s sake lower the price of those damn Guaca Bowles on your website and quit teasing us about your fabulous guacamole recipe and just publish the damn thing!

(OK, I know that’s more than six steps, but I wanted to give Jeb Bush all the help I could by adding some extra steps. Lord knows he needs all the help he can get.)

It’s his turn, after all, don’t we know that?

I think there’s someone on the other side that feels the same way.

Whatever will we do if they both get their parties’ nomination? Hope for a tie? 🙂

    HandyGandy in reply to rinardman. | January 2, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    If Jeb becomes the nominee, then it will be through a process so rigged, that no one will blame Trump for running as a third party candidate, and he will run that.

    So, for better or worse, you will have another candidate to vote for.

Henry Hawkins | January 2, 2016 at 7:55 pm

1. Invent working time machine.

2. Go back and edit telling conservatives to take a hike.

3. Go back and edit pro-amnesty position.

4. Go back and edit Common Core position.

5. Go back and do something for your party since leaving office.

6. Return to present and retrieve balls from jar on Mommy’s mantlepiece.

Now you’re ready to run.

This is so typical of the Washington D.C. beltway crowd: they think they can buy votes. From the very beginning, I said that Jeb wouldn’t last halfway into the primary season because he has NO SUPPORT among the base.

Infinite money won’t help you if you can’t get votes.

    Olinser in reply to Matt_SE. | January 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    He thought there were enough candidates that nobody was going to win and force a brokered convention, where he could bribe the establishment RINOs to be candidate.

    Trump has destroyed that strategy. Hence Jeb’s desperate attacks on him to try and keep him from winning.

    He still thinks that conservatives would allow him to buy the nomination. RINO moron.

      betty in reply to Olinser. | January 3, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Every thing he said in the beginning was to alienate the conservative base. He planed to win the nomination using all his splitters and a brokered convention and then go on to win the general with democrat voters who couldn’t stomach Hillary. Then he would claim a “mandate” and he, the media, the GOPe, the US Chamber of Commerce and Wall Street would all work to keep the conservatives marginalized even though we are the majority.

      Then boom, just like Obamacare, we would get Amnesty; Open Borders; Unlimited Immigration; TPP; and Common Core. And he and his cronies would get control of 40% of the world’s manufacturing and shipping equaling tens of trillions of dollars.

      And henceforth you and your descendants will live in a mid-evil serfdom.

      Jeb and the Uni-party stink, unbelievably.

Jeb!s handlers are as stupid as he is.

It’s his turn, after all, don’t we know that? That shrill whining tone that creeps into his voice when he attacks the other candidates comes across as that of a child who has had his favorite toy taken away, not as serious attacks by a balanced, mature man who wishes to be president.

I’m not convinced it’s a case of such Hillaryesque notions of entitlement.

It seems more like the frustration of a man who knows that the rules have been changed. He’s been training for the Big Game under the old rules, but isn’t prepared for the new ones. Worse, he doesn’t even really know what the new rules are. No wonder he sounds like a man who feels he’s been cheated.

He was doomed from day 1; he just can’t see it, yet. Maybe he never will.

Sammy Finkelman | January 3, 2016 at 1:23 pm

This post misses two important things in the New York Times article:

1) When Lindsey Graham was still in the campaign, Jeb Bush was texting him once a week, presumably because he expected him to drop out and wanted his endorsement. When Lindsey Graham announced his withdrawal, Bush immediately tried to make the sale, sending him a [text?] message and arranging to speak with him later in the day, which they did.

Lindsey Graham is believed to want to endorse Bush, but he doesn’t want to do that unless Bush has a shot at winning the nonination.

What this probably means is that he wants to know that Bush is going to make a serious effort in the South Carolina primary at least, and he can’t know that until about two days after the New Hampshire primary.

In the meantime, over 20 Graham supporters have endorsed Bush.

I suspect a lot of the reason fr Graham favoring Bush is Bush’s position on immigration, although there is also the argument that Bush may be the most level headed on national security because of whom he respects, and maybe some things he has said here and there that seem to Lindsey Graham to show awareness and knowledge maybe not present so much in some other candidates. Bush has also probably expressed some admiration for McCain or other people Graham respects.

2) Bush is believed by his campaign people to do very well in town hall meetings, so they’ll hold more of them.

Now here is where they could change their strategy: They could tape them, and put them online, and run the URL to view them in every or nearly every Bush TV ad, and challenge his opponents to put their town hall meetings online too (listen, he has to take some risks!) He also could excerpt some answers, or parts of answers, that came off well in these town hall meetings or in public appearances, and incorporate them into ads.

And when he attacks Trump, he should also show how he’s not like Trump when talking about the same subject matter. Trump said something about Putin? Show what Bush said. Trump reversed his position on fighting ISIS? Show that and show what Bush said.

What he also could do is do a lot of interviews with very small radio stations in New Hampshire. He’s got to improve his answers and this will give him practice, plus even the smallest radio station is the equivalent of a town hall meeting in audience.

Yeb! was assured by Presidents Dole and McRINO that it was his turn to run and no one who is nice would stand in his way.

Pardon me while I puke.