Jeb Bush is making some changes as we officially enter the 2016 season. He’s pulling back on media buys in Iowa and South Carolina, leaving his $100 million super PAC operation–Right To Rise–to pick up the slack (via The Hill):
The news, first reported by The Des Moines Register, raised speculation that the former Florida governor would effectively give up on Iowa, where he's currently fifth according to the latest RealClearPolitics average.
But Bush's campaign pushed back on that notion, telling The Hill that it was focused on building an unmatched get-out-the-vote operation.
The campaign is moving several dozen staff from Miami headquarters to the early-voting states in January.
“The campaign is building the best national ground game and infrastructure in the field, one that will allow us to be successful in the long run doing what serious, national campaigns must do to be competitive in the primary and general elections," said Bush spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger.
The Bush campaign will pull around $1 million of previously reserved TV advertising in Iowa and will withdraw around $2 million in TV ads from South Carolina but will remain on TV in New Hampshire, where Team Bush is throwing most of its weight.
Over at the Washington Post, Ed O’Keefe wrote that Bush was focusing on the early voting states rather than attending fundraisers. The latest quarter just ended, with the former Florida governor receiving help from his brother, former President George W. Bush, and his son, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, but has continued to raise money from smaller donors, according to O’Keefe. As for his super PAC, they plan on spending tens of millions in the coming weeks:
"Right to Rise USA has more than $3.6M reserved in IA between now and Caucus Day," the super PAC's spokesman Paul Lindsey tweeted Wednesday afternoon. "Will add more in the coming days."
Bush was campaigning Wednesday in South Carolina, a state where his campaign believes he could grab more momentum now that Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) has dropped out of the race. More than a dozen of the senator's most prominent supporters and donors are now backing Bush, though he is currently polling in the low single digits in the Palmetto State.
As for staff, virtually Bush’s entire Miami staff will be deployed to the early voting states (via Politico):
On a Wednesday afternoon staff-wide conference call, top campaign officials, including campaign manager Danny Diaz, informed employees that the deployment would be staggered throughout the month of January. The campaign is expected to dispatch between 50 and 60 staffers in Miami and elsewhere, with 20 going to New Hampshire and 10 or more going to Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada.
One participant on the call quoted Diaz as saying that “damn near everybody” would be departing Miami for early primary states. Diaz, too, would be getting deployed, he told the staff.
Are we seeing the start of a new, reinvigorated Bush campaign, or something akin to the Battle of the Bulge–one last desperate gamble that is destined to fail?