War between Bush and Rubio moves to South Carolina
Both the Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio campaigns are on life support, and most observers believe that one or both will not make it out of South Carolina.
But before someone pulls the plug on both campaigns, I'd recommend you pop some popcorn and watch the fur fly, because it's going to get bloody in South Carolina over the next ten days.
"South Carolina is gonna be a bloodbath. Jeb and his people wanted to attack Marco in New Hampshire about abortion? Let’s see how that plays down there. And then there’s Common Core,” one Rubio adviser said.
Bush’s campaign late Tuesday circulated a memo showing it would go after Kasich and Rubio who “has demonstrated no respect for the nomination process and expects this to be a coronation.”
“Jeb’s people want to call this a victory but it’s not. What this is: a symptom of everyone training their guns on Marco and the media looking to take him down a notch,” one Rubio insider said. “And, yes, Marco f--- up big time on stage. There’s no denying it.”
One longtime Rubio supporter who backs Bush faulted Rubio’s campaign for the slip-up. He said they drove Rubio too hard and too long and he didn’t have enough sleep. In the days before New Hampshire primary, Rubio struggled to find his footing coming off as subdued and tired during some of his final campaign stops. Rubio also repeated himself, again, this time about family values in his last campaign rally in Nashua, N.H., before the primary.
“It was the pace. He couldn’t keep up,” the source said. “And then they doubled-down on it – tripled and quadrupled down on it afterward. That was surreal.”
But, the source added: “Jeb’s back, baby!”
While Bush’s advisers were overjoyed at beating Rubio, Bush seemed to have trouble making his fourth-place showing look like a win in a state where he predicted he’d win, spent more than anyone else and had about 100 events.
“This campaign is not dead,” Bush insisted. “We're going on to South Carolina.”
Bush is expected to be joined by his brother, President George W. Bush, on the campaign trail. He will also rely heavily on Sen. Lindsey Graham to campaign across the state for him.
The poor showing for both in New Hampshire, though, leaves a mark on their candidacies.
“Iowa only means so much,” said Terry Holt, a veteran Republican strategist. “You gotta make it pay off somewhere and with New Hampshire gone, South Carolina looms larger than before. And that’s gonna be a knife fight.”
Jeb Bush spent an astonishing $36 million in New Hampshire to finish behind Ted Cruz, who spent only $600,000. By all rights, after his feeble showing in Iowa, fourth place in New Hampshire should have finished him.
But Bush hasn't burned through all of the $100 million he's raised in the last year, so moving on to South Carolina seems to be his only play left.
As for Rubio, he has a combined $1.3 million between his campaign war chest and his super-PAC – enough to make an impression in South Carolina. But it remains to be seen if he will be an afterthought in the coming battle between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.