(Update) The J.E.B.! Bush campaign death watch enters its final phase


Earlier this week, Ed Kilgore at the Political Animal blog had an interesting analysis of a two-part interview of Right to Rise Super-PAC majordomo (and overall chief Bush strategist) Mike Murphy by Sasha Issenberg at Bloomberg Politics. The View From JebWorld:

jeb-and-george-bush-1In the first installment Murphy dismisses Donald Trump as a “zombie candidate” who will either fall apart or withdraw by the time actual voting begins, and boasts that nobody but Jeb in the non-zombie field has the money to effectively blanket the array of states that begin to hold contests on March 1 with paid media.

In the second installment Murphy adopts the “two lanes” theory of the nomination contest and ignores Trump and Carson as candidates in “the other lane” while tossing out criticisms of the candidate’s in Jeb’s “lane,” which are basically Rubio and Kasich (Christie gets a brief mention, but it doesn’t sound like Murphy’s worried about him).

In the second interview in particular, Murphy and Issenberg engaged in some techno-babble about the limitations of a Super-PACs in social media that I could barely follow. But overall, it’s extremely clear Murphy wants to convey the impression that all the gabbers who are focused on polls and debates and other candidates’ strategies are entirely clueless, because Jeb’s got this well in hand.

I never thought I would see the day when Mike Murphy is reduced to destroying his credibility and reputation by playing the role of Baghdad Bob (Iraqi Information minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, best known for his grandiose and grossly unrealistic propaganda broadcasts before and during the Iraq war in 2003).

Just this week there are several polls showing J.E.B.! Bush languishing in single digits, despite a month-long positive ad blitz by Murphy’s Right to Rise Super-PAC: New Hampshire PPP poll (10/20) Bush 9%; National Monmouth poll (10/20) Bush 5%; National NBC/WSJ poll (10/20) Bush 8%; National CNN/ORC poll (10/20) Bush 8%; New Hampshire Boston Herald poll (10/21) Bush 9%; New Hampshire Bloomberg poll (10/21) Bush 10%; National ABC/Wash Post poll (10/21) Bush 7%; Wisconsin WPR/St. Norbert poll (10/22) Bush 3%; Iowa Quinnipiac poll (10/22) Bush 5%; Iowa DMR/Bloomberg poll (10/23) Bush 5%.

And with the Friday news dump comes word from POLITICO Tiger Beat on the Potomac, Jeb Bush slashes costs as campaign gasps:

Jeb Bush’s campaign insists the wholesale restructuring announced Friday is a merely a course correction, a reallocation of resources and heightened focus on New Hampshire. [Classic Baghdad Bob!] But for a growing number of Bush’s supporters, frustrated by his prolonged slump and poor performance, the latest campaign shake-up is looking like more of a death knell.

Starting on Nov. 1, the campaign will cut payroll costs by 40 percent, downsize its Miami headquarters by more than 50 percent, reduce travel costs by 20 percent and cut 45 percent of spending on things other than media and voter contact. Even if those moves ease financial pressures on Bush’s large campaign operation, they only reinforce the prevailing narrative about a candidate, not long ago viewed as a front-runner, in freefall.

According to donors, some of whom called for Bush to rein in its spending, the campaign’s assurances about its organizational and financial advantages have worn thin; and the third-quarter financial report, filed last week, gave further definition to their growing concerns about the state of a big-spending campaign failing to deliver results.

“These donors are not finding these explanations by the Bush team believable,” said one bundler, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “There’s a lot of frustration that a lot of money’s been spent and it hasn’t moved anything.”

While there were signs the campaign faced trouble, Bush’s team didn’t know the depths of its problems until it got to look at the other campaigns’ finance reports. The just-ended quarter — the first full period in which all the major candidates had announced and campaigned — set off alarms in Miami.

“I don’t want to say panic, but we were nervous,” a Bush staffer said.

* * *

This weekend, Bush goes to Houston for a weekend meeting with his father and brother, an event conceived as a reward — a pep rally of sorts — for major donors but one that now serves to further underline the campaign’s reliance on an old network of family funders and its glaring lack of rank-and-file support beyond the GOP’s moneyed class.

From there, Bush heads to Colorado for the third GOP presidential primary debate on Wednesday. In the aftermath of Friday’s shake-up, he’ll be in dire need of a strong performance, several Bush supporters said.

“He needs a huge performance,” one Tallahassee-based donor said. “And I’m not sure he’s got one in him.”

Adding insult to injury, the right-wing National Review says J.E.B.! is “toast” because of his terrible low-dollar fundraising numbers. Jeb Bush Is Toast.

Finally, FAUX News fem-bot Megyn Kelly tried to push J.E.B.! out the door during an interview. Megyn Kelly to Jeb Bush: Will you drop out? Ouch!

The prediction by Mike Murphy aka Baghdad Bob that Donald Trump “will either fall apart or withdraw by the time actual voting begins” appears to be a bit of psychological projection about his own candidate J.E.B.!


  1. Apparently John Ellis Bush Bush is spending the Sunday & Monday in the woodshed being attended to Ma, Pa, and Older Bro. Via Digby:

    Jeb Bush “will attend a finance meeting this weekend in Houston convened by former President George H. W. Bush and attended by Bush’s brother, former President George W. Bush,” CBS News has learned.

    “The session, designed to assess where Bush’s candidacy stands in the face of large-scale staff cutbacks and underwhelming poll numbers, will also be attended by Bush’s mother, Barbara Bush. The governor’s campaign confirmed the meeting will be held Sunday and Monday.”



  2. I’ll play devil’s advocate here, although I don’t really disagree with the analysis. Remember how poorly McCain was doing at about this same time in 2007? I had a wealthy Republican who lamented to me that he and his wife had thrown $9,200 out the window by maxing out to him early.

    Bush really only has one opponent he needs to overtake — Rubio. The others will take care of themselves. He’ll make it to New Hampshire. And New Hampshire primary voters on both sides have a way of resuscitating flagging campaigns.

    That said, Bush’s number of self-inflicted wounds may be historic. So, even though he still has a chance, he’s likely to seal his own fate.

  3. Do the Republicans have a viable candidate? Jeb! has been terrible in the debates, and the US public is not letting him rewrite history re: Sept 11.

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