Monday, June 15, 2015


I don't read campaign journalism to learn what seasoned reporters think is going on. I read it to learn what spin the campaigns are spoon-feeding to those seasoned reporters, because campaign reporters almost invariably type up what they're told virtually unedited, with little or no skepticism.

So when Politico's Eli Stokols writes an article titled "In Crowded Field, Bush Runs as the Grown-Up Candidate," I know this isn't Stokols's judgment -- it's a line the campaign want him to repeat for Politico's readers. Stokols obliges, of course:
While GOP rivals have sought to subtly cast Bush as being a candidate of the past, his ace in the hole is the impression that he’s also the grownup in the room -- a valuable asset in a campaign that will likely pit the GOP nominee against a heavyweight like Clinton. Bush has a record of executive experience that senators like Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz can’t match and a familiarity with the world stage that far surpasses Walker.
And when Stokols tells us what the Bush campaign is thinking about the primaries and caucuses, what we see is the campaign spinning frantically, in an effort to suggest that it's fine if Jeb loses four consecutive contests: the Iowa caucuses on February 1, the New Hampshire primary on February 9, the South Carolina primary on February 20, and the Nevada caucuses on February 23. At least that's how I interpret this from the Stokols article:
The Bush team’s theory of the case is that their cash advantage will build a superior operation that can mount a national campaign and that’s built for the long haul....

Bush doesn’t have to win the Iowa caucuses, only avoid an embarrassing finish well outside the top three. The New Hampshire primary, the second contest on the 2016 calendar, offers Bush a better chance to actually win. While a victory there would be important symbolically, it’s not viewed as mission-critical: Given the resources available to him, he just has to do well enough in February -- probably no worse than a second-place finish in New Hampshire -- to be a viable option when the calendar page turns.

March 1 is when the Bush organization’s resources will truly reverberate as his treasury is likely to enable him to play in the many states -- at least eight, perhaps more -- all holding contests that day. With potentially more than 600 delegates up for grabs across the country, this is the date Bush’s team has circled on the calendar as the day that may help him gain separation from the rest of the field.

“You’ve got to have a real operation to target delegates in so many states, and in individual counties within those states,” David Kochel, who will oversee Bush’s early-state strategy, said last month. “That requires more than just a few people.”
So Team Bush is saying that it's fine if Bush loses Iowa and New Hampshire -- and, by implication, no big deal if he loses South Carolina and Nevada -- because he has so much money and such an impressive organization that he's going to kick butt after that.

Seriously? That's his message? That he wonm't be seen as bruised and bleeding if he suffers four early losses? That the early winners won't get momentum and money as a result of their wins?

Well, the campaign has to say that, right? The Real Clear Politics poll average has him in fifth place in Iowa, winning but far from dominant in New Hampshire, barely leading in South Carolina, and trailing in Nevada. He really could lose all four states.

If you believe his spin, that's cool with him. Do you believe his spin?


Victor said...

Instead of "seasoned reporters," I prefer the term 'well-compensated (or seasoned) scribes.'

At least these clowns didn't have to learn hieroglyphics to do their jobs.
That would actually have meant that they had to do some work in their lives.

petrilli said...

I don't believe the spin per se, but the strategy described in the article is unsurprising. It's long term, the opposite of desperate. It values delegates, not beauty contests. He can do it this way because he has had the resources to do it this way from the beginning. Bush isn't just an opposing candidate. It's a crime syndicate with its talons in every facet of American political and economic power. He's always been the the one to beat. Anything can happen, but I'll be very pleasantly surprised if he loses the primary.