Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s allies vowed to “shock and awe” the presidential field by raising $100 million before he formally entered the race, but Bush is likely to fall “substantially” short of that lofty figure.
According to a Washington Post report, not meeting the $100 million goal will be a “major psychological blow” for Bush’s operation, which has touted Bush’s fundraising strength as one of the major reasons why he should be considered a front-runner even though his poll numbers have been unimpressive.
Bush has failed to win over grassroots conservatives with his support for Common Core and amnesty for illegal immigrants. And he has stumbled in interviews and on the stump–Bush gave our different answers in four different days on whether he would have gone into Iraq knowing what we know now before finally saying he would not have invaded the nation.
Bush, who is expected to officially enter the race on June 15, has delayed becoming an official candidate for the last five months to raise money for the Right to Rise super PAC, which he cannot legally do as a declared candidate.
Bush recently told donors that his political operation had “raised more money in its first 100 days than any other Republican in modern history,” and his advisers reportedly told donors to not contribute more than $1 million in the early stages of the campaign. His operation is likely to still report a fundraising haul that dwarfs those of his opponents and sets GOP records.
Regardless, as the Post noted, “any figure short of $100 million will likely be viewed as a sign of weakness by senior party strategists and donors, many of whom now expect the group to greatly exceed that total,” especially since Bush’s aides reportedly made no effort to lower expectations and even “privately fueled them.”
Setting those lofty expectations–and not meeting them–may be another sign of a campaign that has been far from firing on all cylinders.
Bush replaced his campaign manager even before his formal campaign launch in what NBC’s First Read described as an “extraordinary” sign of disarray. Longtime Bush aide Sally Bradshaw, according to the New York Times, also reportedly instituted “an informal hiring freeze after the Bush team grew too rapidly” and she was “distressed about early decisions over spending.”