NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — Perhaps in fear that he didn’t have enough backers willing to show up on their own, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s campaign organized to bus supporters to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to cheer during his appearance on stage and vote for him in the straw poll.
The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin writes that Bush brought people in from Washington, D.C.: “Mr. Bush’s supporters organized caravans of his Washington backers to attend his speech, and they cheered whenever anyone else booed,” Martin wrote.
Those same bused in cheerers also will likely be expected by Bush’s campaign to vote for him in the famed straw poll.
Betsy Woodruff at the liberal outlet Slate also obtained emails that prove Bush’s team was busing in supporters from K Street.
“Emails provided to Slate show that backers of the former Florida governor are busing supporters from downtown Washington D.C. to CPAC in National Harbor, Maryland, and organizing to get them day passes into the event,” Woodruff wrote.
One person behind the effort to bus in Bush backers, Woodruff confirmed, was former George W. Bush advance man Fritz Brogan. “A Bush insider confirmed to Slate that Bush’s Right to Rise PAC is helping organize the transportation,” Woodruff wrote.
Three other potential GOP presidential campaigns told Breitbart News that they expect nothing less from Bush’s campaign, since he doesn’t have real conservative support.
“It comes as no surprise that the Bushies would try to rig the CPAC straw poll. Jeb, like his father and brother, is strongly disliked and distrusted by the Base,” one said.
Trying to rig the CPAC straw poll “is a cynical effort by Bush’s establishment campaign to attempt to build some conservative bona fides where none exist,” a second rival presidential effort staffer told Breitbart News. “Since they don’t have legitimate conservative support they have to pay for it in a transparent AstroTurf effort.”
“This shows one thing: Jeb Bush’s base is D.C. insiders and lobbyists,” an operative for a third potential GOP presidential rival said. “He has to bus them everywhere he goes. They are his only hope, that they can buy him this election every step of the way. True conservatives need to stand up and fight back.”
Before CPAC, when asked if Bush’s supporters would be paid and bused in, Bush spokeswoman Kristy Campbell denied it flatly. She said in an email that she “can confirm that we are not trying to play in the straw poll – despite what anyone else is telling you.”
Campbell, Bush’s spokeswoman, told Breitbart News on Saturday afternoon: “We aren’t trying to play in the straw poll. Some supporters in the DC area who were planning to attend CPAC expressed concerns about getting over to the Gaylord. We helping by providing some limited transportation on Friday only (specific to the time of the Governor’s speech.)”