Wednesday, June 17, 2015

by Reed Galen

Days Until Iowa Caucus: 230

Officially Declared Candidates:

·      Donald Trump (R? – NY)

·      Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL)

·      Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)

·      Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX)

·      Sen. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI)

·      Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

·      Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD)

·      Gov. George Pataki (R-NY)

·      Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR)

·      Dr. Ben Carson (R-MD)

·      Carly Fiorina (R-VA)

·      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

·      Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)

·      Sec. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

·      Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

·      Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

·      Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)

Quote by a Smart Person: To us, family is putting your arms around each other and being there." Former First Lady Barbara Bush

Welcome to the American Singularity.

Why the Singularity?

·      The presidential nominating process is one in which everything, large and small, is sucked into its gravitational maw, allowing nothing to escape its grasp as events pass through the campaign cycle’s event horizon.

·      There is no more singular political experience on the planet than electing the President of the United States.

·      The United States is still the most free, most prosperous and brightest beacon of hope to billions around the world.

Every action and reaction feeds into this black hole of press coverage, donor reactions, voter sentiment and activist opinions. Nothing goes unnoticed and nothing is forgotten. Legions of reporters, bloggers, opposition researchers, trackers, social media monitoring services, vacuum up every last syllable.

Every week we’ll take a look at the campaign as it unfolds, and how events reflect the campaigns, the issues of the day and the country at large. Have a tip, piece of advice or something to add? Email me –

Week 15: Jeb! 2016 – Nothing Like It in the World

A year ago many (including me) didn’t believe Jeb Bush would run for president. He was moving around the country, helping candidates, talking to people and making speeches. But the real question was: Did Jeb really want to dive back into the slog of campaigning after eight years out of office? His speech at Miami-Dade College yesterday showed that he wants the challenge.

The event itself was classic Bush Dynasty: well conceived, put together and constructed. His speech was interrupted several times by applause and they handled a protester in stride – starting the crowd chants to drown out the offender. Stylistically, they should have given him a real podium. While I understand the desire to keep the candidate close to the crowd, without something to hold onto, Bush seemed unaware of what to do with his hands and body without the heft of a true lectern to protect him.

Bush was on message for conservatives. He hit his marks on regulation, the EPA and IRS, education, unions and national security. As Steve Schmidt, senior advisor to John McCain’s 2008 campaign said on Morning Joe, “If Jeb isn’t conservative enough, the GOP has a problem.”

On a side note – at one point, while talking about Hillary Clinton, Bush uttered the words, “That’s what she said.” For your viewing pleasure, a mash-up of Michael Scott's greatest hits.

La Familia

Jeb may be his own man, but the Bush clan is inextricably tied to one another. As I watched Bush speak, I was struck by how much he shares mannerisms and body language with both his dad and his brother. The flash of awareness when Bush realized there was a protester in the crowd was a look I’d seen on his brother’s face more times than I care to remember.

President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush. Courtesy Brooks Craft/Corbis

President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush. Courtesy Brooks Craft/Corbis

If you go back and read the passages about George H.W. Bush in What It Takes (I’ll stop citing it when it stops being relevant), a Bush without their family isn’t a Bush. Their connection to one another stretches back decades – they rely on one another – they revere one another. Asking Jeb to step away from his family is asking the sun to come up in the West.

Everything is Different Now

Whether or not Jeb Bush wins the Republican nomination or the Presidency, he has changed how many federal campaigns will operate forever. Like George W. Bush moving the national convention to Labor Day to shrink the General Election (and thereby save matching funds) to Barack Obama blowing the matching caps altogether in 2008, Jeb has ushered in another sea-change in how large campaigns will finance themselves.

Deciding late last year to functionally operate his exploratory committee out of a super PAC – Right to Rise – Jeb has been able to use money raised without limits to travel, put on events, hire staff and basically run a campaign – all without the pesky $2,700 per person limit.

But beyond just the fundraising, Jeb could potentially utilize Right to Rise a number of different ways. One operative I spoke with posited the theory that the super PAC could host town hall meetings with Jeb Bush as their special guest. If they can figure out how to raise $100 million in a few months, they can figure out how to pay for his speeches. Indeed, as Hillary Clinton has courted California donors to her own super PAC, clearly some logistical coordination has already occurred.

Even on things as mundane (to y’all anyway) as staffing, Jeb! 2016 appears different. While they’ve named a manager, finance director, data analytics lead and communications director, we haven’t seen a political director or field director named. They have early state staff but who are the regional political directors? Will the super PAC fill those roles? If so, do volunteers want to work for a super PAC? Will they knock on doors and make calls for Right to Rise and not Jeb! 2016?

Soon the practice of pre-campaigning for federal office on the back of a super PAC will be commonplace. While not every candidate will have the ability to operate in this fashion, those that can, will.


The press and chattering class pushed themselves into full speculatory gear last week as Bush announced that he’d named Danny Diaz his campaign manager. (Author’s note – Diaz and I worked on both the 2004 Bush and 2007 McCain campaigns together.) The insiders noted that Bush’s candidate-whisperer, Sally Bradshaw, had been unhappy with the pace of the operation. But that was all before Bush officially announced his run.

Jeb! 2016 and Right to Rise can no longer legally speak to one another. They are borne of the same DNA and for many months operated as one entity. But now the twins are separated – and despite best intentions, the chaos of an active campaign will affect how they operate. They’ll have to rely on “smoke signals” to judge the intent of the other.

The Roman god, Janus. Courtesy Tales Beyond Belief

The Roman god, Janus. Courtesy Tales Beyond Belief

Ideally, Right to Rise is the support structure for the campaign. It says all the best things about the candidate and all the worst things about their opponents. They are the house organ, artillery brigade and bomber force rolled into one. Bush’s super PAC will be run by longtime confidante Mike Murphy.

Assuming that Bradshaw and Murphy spent many hours discussing how the two would work once they were legally separated, what happens when one side is unhappy with the other? Unfortunately for Jeb-world, there have already been a number of internal disputes that have aired publicly. Indeed, one account reported that Murphy and campaign ad maker Jon Downs had already been at odds. What if Murphy doesn’t like Jeb’s ads? He can’t pick up the phone and call Miami. Where is the pressure valve?


Jeb Bush brings name ID and heaps of money to the 2016 presidential race – and those are two good things to have. While he will have an uphill climb, he should have the staying power to be on the debate stage well into next year. Bush is of two minds and two places. He is a paragon of the Republican establishment and the scion of one of its great political dynasties.

Courtesy Wall Street Journal - Beth Reinhard

Courtesy Wall Street Journal - Beth Reinhard

But he also sees himself as a true outsider – not tarnished by the ugliness and gridlock of Washington. And he brings a hopeful message, if not always a sunny mien. For Bush, spring training is over. It’s the regular season now – he’ll have to mix it up with everyone else from here to Iowa. He’s already changed how the game is played. The question is, can he win it?

AuthorReed Galen