Jeb Bush has had a bad week. And I’m willing to take the criticism for liking the guy. He’s not my first or second choice, but I’d gladly support him as the nominee. He’s a good guy who doesn’t deserve a lot of the smears hurled his way.
But Jeb Bush’s campaign made him a liar last week and added to a terrible news cycle. I maintain he needs to take his campaign out back and shoot it and either reboot or go home. His campaign manager, Danny Diaz, is a terrific hire. Every time I’ve dealt with Tim Miller, his communications guy, I’ve been impressed. In fact, in planning the RedState Gathering the Bush team was by far the most prompt and responsive of all the campaigns and one of the least demanding. I hear that from others who’ve dealt with the campaign too. They are good people.
But this past week, under pressure, cracks showed up. I don’t know who was responsible for it, but the Bush campaign, after that terrible debate performance, decided to drop all their opposition research on Marco Rubio. My suspicion is that they wanted to get it out there so Mike Murphy, running the Super PAC for Bush, can start attacking Rubio with the opposition research file. The ads presently running from Right to Rise, the Super PAC, are having virtually no impact and, though I haven’t seen them, many of those who have are less than impressed.
This Rubio oppo drop shows how much the Bush campaign feels threatened by Marco Rubio. They know they need to take him out and cannot just focus on keeping John Kasich behind them. But they botched it.
In the oppo drop on Marco, they hinted at some nefarious something about Marco that caused him to fail the vetting process for Mitt Romney. In truth, people close to the Bush campaign has been whispering that Marco has a woman problem. I’d note that individuals connected to the National Republican Senatorial Committee also tried to float this rumor in 2010 as they backed Charlie Crist. It has all the hallmarks of a last ditch effort to smear an attractive, young candidate based on Hollywood stereotype and not the candidate himself. Rubio is actually happily married and would rather spend time with his family than with his colleagues in Washington. But people close to Team Bush, like the NRSC before them, are in “throw the kitchen sink” mode.
This makes Bush a liar though. Mitt Romney’s Deputy Campaign Manager from 2012, has now denied Rubio failed the vetting process. In fact, she said he passed the vetting process, but the campaign decided to go in a different direction.
So, in addition to the stunt making Jeb Bush a liar, it also calls into question the rest of the opposition research file. It was a lame stunt that may have publicly handed the Super PAC the Rubio oppo file, but also made the candidate running as the adult look like a grade school bully who can’t take a punch.