Going well beyond prudent cost cutting and a defensive posture, Team Jeb Bush will begin making such significant campaign cuts effective November 1, they can’t be seen as anything other than a big red flag that his bid for the GOP nomination is in serious trouble.
Add in an increasingly disgruntled funder network and the candidate’s continued stumbles and failure to connect with voters and it likely won’t be long before people start speculating about when the latest Bush to seek the White House gives up and goes home without the prize.
Jeb Bush on Friday ordered a wholesale restructuring of his struggling campaign after suffering miserably in the polls despite massive spending and a deep donor network.
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.
According to donors, some of whom called for Bush to rein in its spending, the campaign’s assurances about its organizational and financial advantages had worn thin; and the third-quarter financial report, filed last Thursday, gave further definition to their growing concerns about the state of the campaign.
If, as detailed below, Jeb is struggling with donors – once his strongest suit – it’s difficult to look elsewhere in his campaign for anything resembling a strength. Not only has the campaign been spending more than anyone else, it’s been seeing less return in terms of results. Costly ad runs and campaign appearances in early states have failed to move his numbers.
“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.”
This particular statement seems disconnected from reality. The junior Bush is proving to be the effort’s biggest liability, not its “biggest asset.”
On the one hand, there is his less than favorable comparison to now serious contender Marco Rubio.
“We will use the campaign’s biggest asset—Jeb Bush—and put him in front of as many voters as possible,” the campaign said in a memo sent to reporters.
Among establishment donors, Bush has fought hard to stave off his former understudy, Marco Rubio, whose superior abilities on the stump and comparatively lean campaign operation have impressed kingmakers like Sheldon Adelson and others.
Another Bush donor, the CEO of a large financial firm, said the campaign is in fact scared of Rubio and rightly so.
“Marco is a very real and very dangerous candidate in this race,” the donor said.
And then there’s the constant needling he’s been taking from Donald Trump.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump blasted Jeb Bush’s campaign manager Wednesday for speaking to a group in Germany after a published report that highlighted the former Florida governor’s campaign problems.
Trump said of Danny Diaz on Twitter:
Can u believe that Jeb Bush’s campaign manager is in Berlin, Germany looking for money? What’s he giving to Germany? https://t.co/HDdWRBteNe
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2015
That, representing only the latest Trump dig at Bush was reported by Breitbart news. Given these latest developments, it may not be long before the last phrase in Spanish Jeb Bush mumbles for 2016 is the now infamous No Más.