Facing Donor Pressure, Bush Campaign Begins Downsizing
There’s a firesale happening at Bush headquarters in Miami, almost everything must go to make way for campaign budget-cuts brought on by donor pressure to reduce costs. Bush’s team is calling the cuts “strategic” so they can put more effort into states, such as New Hampshire, where Bush is holding onto a third place lead according to the RealClearPolitcs average.
Report from Bloomberg:
Jeb Bush, once a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, is slashing pay across the board for his struggling campaign as he attempts to regain traction just 100 days before the party’s first nominating contest.
The campaign is removing some senior staff from the payroll, parting ways with some consultants, and downsizing its Miami headquarters to save more than $1 million per month and cut payroll by 40 percent this week, according to Bush campaign officials who requested anonymity to speak about internal changes. Senior leadership positions remain unchanged.
The campaign is also cutting back 45 percent of its budget, except for dollars earmarked for TV advertising and spending for voter contacts, such as phone calls and mailers. Some senior-level staff and consultants will continue to work with the campaign on a volunteer basis, while other junior-level consultants, primarily in finance but including other areas, will be let go, the officials said. The officials declined to say who would be removed from the payroll or provide an exact dollar figure for the savings. (A summary of the changes, provided to Bloomberg Politics by the campaign, is posted here.)
Bush’s advisers, under pressure from their donors and from falling and stagnant poll numbers, have been discussing ways to retool the campaign in recent days, and came to the conclusion that a course correction was essential. While recent tangles with Donald Trump have energized the campaign, Bush’s senior team recognized a more fundamental set of changes was required that didn’t involve dealing directly with the party’s surprising—and surprisingly durable—front-runner. [Emphasis added]
I think the last sentence I highlighted is the takeaway from this story, that Donald Trump is starving the Bush campaign of money, attention, and voter support. Prior to Trump entering the race, Bush was sitting atop the average of many polls and in a fairly strong position. However, in recent months, especially following the first two Republican debates, Bush’s numbers have gone soft and Trump has maintained a lead longer than any Republican consultant or strategist believed he would.
Efforts to attack Trump have largely failed to yield anything but embarrassment for the Bush campaign on several fronts. They’ve been unable to win the boxing match, so they’re going to retool and take a different course.
These moves are an acknowledgment that Bush is not the frontrunner, and hasn’t been for months. They’re now running a leaner, come-from-behind campaign to focus on the primary contests and ignore the national conversation. Bush says he’s in it for the “long haul“, which I absolutely believe. He’s got enough money to keep the campaign going all the way to the primaries.