The inner workings of GOP candidate Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign are revealed in a leaked internal document, highlighting the laser focus on rival Sen. Marco Rubio and the lengths to which the campaign is going to make a positive showing in Iowa.
The documents are a PowerPoint presentation, presented by Bush’s senior staff members at a donor summit Oct. 25-26 in Houston. The media received an abridged copy of this PowerPoint that was only 45 slides. The leaked presentation, which was confirmed by the campaign to be accurate, has 112 slides.
Perhaps the most revelatory page underscores how deeply focused the campaign is on Bush’s former protégée, Rubio. One of the slides in this extended presentation is titled “Marco is a Risky Bet.”
The bullets are rife with condemnatory information on his past, citing his relationship with Miami billionaire Norman Braman, who has financed Rubio both personally and professionally and employs his wife.
It slams Rubio for his lack of experience, accomplishments and for his “tomorrow versus yesterday argument,” which the campaign alleges will be ridiculed if he runs against the first would-be woman president. The last, most ominous message reads:
“Those who have looked into the Marco’s background in the past have been concerned with what they have found.”
Beth Myers, a longtime Romney political adviser who in 2012 oversaw his vice presidential search, however, pushed back on that notion. ‘As the senior Romney advisor who handled VP vetting and had access to all the vetting documents, I can say that Senator Rubio 'passed' our vetting and we found nothing that disqualified him from serving as VP,’ Myers wrote in an email to Politico, later confirming the statement to ABC News. ‘The Bush aide referred to in this article is simply wrong.’”
Rubio is the only GOP candidate at which several slides are aimed. The Bush intentions were clear: to highlight his inexperience. Bush, out on the campaign trail, had admonished Rubio for missing Senate votes and, on during the most recent debate, decided to pounce on the issue. But Rubio was prepared and came out all the stronger in their feud.
Still, the campaign has its sights set on the young senator, whom the presentation called a “GOP Obama.”
"This is the point that the Governor is making -- it’s wonderful that Rubio wants to run for president, has every right to, voted him in for the Senate, only Republican senator from Florida. It’s vital that he be there for votes and intelligence committee meetings,” Florida Bush campaign consultant Helen Ferre Aguilar told ABC News.
The presentation also presents a look into the campaign’s Iowa strategy and reveals how far away from their goals Bush is. The staff is aiming for Bush to accrue 18 percent of the caucus vote in Iowa. But out over 70,000 calls the campaign has put out to voters, only 1,281 said they would expressly support Bush.
To alleviate the disparity, the campaign is planning for surrogate calls and deployment, setting goals among their precinct captains and sponsoring caucus training.
Another look at one of the campaign’s worries is highlighted in internal polling. In a poll on national security, for example, they found that, while a majority found Bush would strengthen the military "because he's been endorsed by 13 Medal of Honor recipients," one-third of GOPers said Bush "unfortunately relies upon the same core military advisers that his father and brother used,” underscoring a core problem that Bush has always known he’s had to face; separating himself from his brother and his policies that were unpopular.
There’s also a look campaign plans for upcoming media blitzes, with one $10.8 million media blitz to begin Jan 5, including cable, radio and digital ads. The biggest investment is in New Hampshire. They're slated to spend $5.6 million there.
The campaign maintained to donors that Bush is still the safe candidate, noting that polls are unpredictable at this stage in the process, confident that Bush will regain his front-runner status when it matters the most.