Jeb Bush Brings Football and Politics Together

Don't be surprised if you see a politician at your college or university game.

ByCANDACE SMITH
September 18, 2015, 5:49 PM

— -- It's fall again, which means that two of America's great institutions are shifting into high gear -- football and politics. And it's at the intersection of these that many candidates are trying to position themselves.

In key early states like Iowa and South Carolina, football reigns supreme. Games will be broadcast to millions, providing a valuable opportunity for candidates to get out their message.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is taking full advantage. On Saturday, he'll head to Athens, Georgia, to a tailgate party hosted by the college Republicans during the University of Georgia vs. the University of South Carolina game. It's the first of many such events for Bush. He'll go to the Tennessee vs. UGA game on Oct. 10 then see the rivals LSU and Alabama Crimson Tide duke it out on Nov. 7.

College football has long been lucrative for aspirational candidates. In addition to face time with local collegiate organizations, the games themselves can be big boosts, which are broadcast on ABC, CBS, FOX, FS1 and ESPN's family of networks, where one game and one ad can be viewed by over 34 million people.

The super PAC supporting Bush knows full well the power of a well-placed ad. In a $21 million ad buy, it is prepping advertisements to pepper these stations that broadcast games, with ads set to air on cable networks, including ESPN, ESPN2 and the Big Ten Network for Iowa football games from September through November.

All of this in an effort to reach that huge, crucial voting block that makes up this viewer demographic -- white males, largely 35 and over.

Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, has also requested advertising rates in at least a dozen other states, including Ohio, Missouri and Florida, all scheduled to hold primaries on March 15.

Bush is matching these advertising efforts by rolling out a Southeastern Conference Advisory Committee, which will consist of Jeb supporters who attend or are alumnae of the SEC schools. The campaign announced today the UGA committee with 10 initial members, and the University of South Carolina committee, which is 31 members strong. Bush is the former governor of another SEC state, Florida.

He's not the only one. At the Iowa vs. Iowa state match-up earlier this month, four GOP hopefuls showed up at a tailgate, hoping to court fans, with an attempt to be the everyman, football facts at the ready, beers in hand.

So, if you see a politician at your college or university's game, don't be surprised. Politics and the old pigskin are a match made in political strategist heaven.

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