Bush donors pledge to support him for the long haul

If you had asked me last week if Jeb Bush would have still been in the race on Halloween, I would have laid odds against it. But at a weekend donor "retreat," it became clear that the former Florida governor had no intention of dropping out - as long as his big money men were footing the bill.

And most of them, apparently, are sticking with him.

The Hill:

The former Florida governor served up barbecue beef, smoked turkey, salad and mashed potatoes to his most generous donors on the first night of a two-day donor retreat at a Houston hotel.

Unlike Bush's first donor gathering in July at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Me. - when Bush was still seen as the Republican front-runner with the establishment lane almost entirely to himself - Sunday's event followed weeks ofsagging polls and an recognition that his campaign would have to dramatically downsize to meet financial realities.

The tone of the Houston retreat was upbeat and Bush insisted his positive messages would eventually win out in what he sees as an increasingly divisive and demonizing campaign.

"The crowd in Houston was big, energetic and clearly ready to go the distance for Gov. Bush," said Ray Sullivan, who was recruited by the Bush campaign after leading the super-PAC network supporting the former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

Addressing his campaign's budget cuts, Bush told his donors that "like a business... when the landscape changes budgets and plans must change as well," Sullivan said.

"The donors and supporters there welcomed his candor and responded enthusiastically."

Sullivan said Bush had "sharp words for President Obama's misguided and divisive politics," adding that the former Florida governor had "confidence that the GOP can't and won't be dragged down the Obama-esque path of political division, victimhood and demagoguery."

Bush's brother and father, former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, are attending the donor retreat, said campaign spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger.

On Monday, there will be presentations from senior campaign staff and a "discussion between Jeb and President George W. Bush," she added. George H.W. Bush is expected to attend both days of the retreat.

The reality is that while Bush is tanking with small donors - $50, $75, $100 givers - he is still tops in larger donations. And his super pac is still super wealthy with nearly $100 million to spend. "Right to Rise" may not be able to spend on Bush's campaign directly, but running "issue ads" that play into Bush's strengths could help boost hs fortunes.

It's still a long shot. But Bush streamlining his campaign will keep him in the race for at least the first few primaries. And once the voting starts, this volatile race will become even more unpredictable.

 

If you had asked me last week if Jeb Bush would have still been in the race on Halloween, I would have laid odds against it. But at a weekend donor "retreat," it became clear that the former Florida governor had no intention of dropping out - as long as his big money men were footing the bill.

And most of them, apparently, are sticking with him.

The Hill:

The former Florida governor served up barbecue beef, smoked turkey, salad and mashed potatoes to his most generous donors on the first night of a two-day donor retreat at a Houston hotel.

Unlike Bush's first donor gathering in July at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Me. - when Bush was still seen as the Republican front-runner with the establishment lane almost entirely to himself - Sunday's event followed weeks ofsagging polls and an recognition that his campaign would have to dramatically downsize to meet financial realities.

The tone of the Houston retreat was upbeat and Bush insisted his positive messages would eventually win out in what he sees as an increasingly divisive and demonizing campaign.

"The crowd in Houston was big, energetic and clearly ready to go the distance for Gov. Bush," said Ray Sullivan, who was recruited by the Bush campaign after leading the super-PAC network supporting the former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R).

Addressing his campaign's budget cuts, Bush told his donors that "like a business... when the landscape changes budgets and plans must change as well," Sullivan said.

"The donors and supporters there welcomed his candor and responded enthusiastically."

Sullivan said Bush had "sharp words for President Obama's misguided and divisive politics," adding that the former Florida governor had "confidence that the GOP can't and won't be dragged down the Obama-esque path of political division, victimhood and demagoguery."

Bush's brother and father, former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, are attending the donor retreat, said campaign spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger.

On Monday, there will be presentations from senior campaign staff and a "discussion between Jeb and President George W. Bush," she added. George H.W. Bush is expected to attend both days of the retreat.

The reality is that while Bush is tanking with small donors - $50, $75, $100 givers - he is still tops in larger donations. And his super pac is still super wealthy with nearly $100 million to spend. "Right to Rise" may not be able to spend on Bush's campaign directly, but running "issue ads" that play into Bush's strengths could help boost hs fortunes.

It's still a long shot. But Bush streamlining his campaign will keep him in the race for at least the first few primaries. And once the voting starts, this volatile race will become even more unpredictable.