Jeb! 2016 Looks To Revitalize Campaign
GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush is hitting the reset button on what many consider an underwhelming campaign, with a new slogan: “Jeb Can Fix It.”
Bush’s reboot – some call it Jeb 2.0 – kicked off Monday in the wake of dropping poll numbers and slumping finances. Speaking at a rally in Tampa, he appeared to acknowledge a lack of the style shown by some of his competitors, saying he’s resisted advice on how to present himself.
“Some are stylistic; ‘Take off the suit coat; ditch the glasses, take off the purple tie,’” said Bush. “If Lincoln were alive today, advisors would be telling him to shave his beard; cable pundits telling him to lose the top hat, [and] opposition researchers calling him a ‘five-time loser before he was 50.’”
A new poll from Viewpoint Florida – surveying two thousand likely Republican voters -- has Donald Trump leading with 27%, followed by Marco Rubio and Ben Carson at 16% and 15% respectively. Bush and Ted Cruz are both at around 12%.
“It’s very important that he rejuvenate his campaign quickly, and no better place to do it than back home,” said Susan McManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.
She adds that if Bush can jump start his campaign in his home state, he could trend upward in other states that do not have the pitfalls of the first two primaries.
“A lot of Republicans are really leery about leading off with Iowa and New Hampshire,” McManus said. “They’re seen as very unrepresentative in terms of their racial and ethnic mix, and also their rural, suburban and urban mix.”
Meanwhile, the Bush campaign has cut salaries from its original $1.7 million payroll over the past three months as donations have declined, according to Politico.com. The early raising of $120 million by his Super PAC Right to Rise could now be proving more of curse than a blessing.
“Most people thought ‘Well, you [Bush] can’t ever run out of money,’ but we know that’s not true,” said McManus. “Particularly since when he raised all this money no one was anticipating there would be 15 or 16 other Republicans running against him. And it would get very, very expensive very quickly.”
One of the goals of “Jeb Can Fix It” appears to restoring his reputation as a “happy warrior” and positive force, in reminding voters of the conservative policies implemented in his two terms as Governor of swing-state Florida.
“Getting things done is not about yelling into a camera, or regurgitating sound bites free of substance,” Bush said. “Leadership is something far different. It’s not about saying the right thing, but doing the right thing.”
After going from Tampa to Orlando and Jacksonville on Monday, Jeb Bush will take that message to South Carolina on Tuesday, then start a bus tour with a two-day swing through New Hampshire.