Bush campaign cuts pay, redeploys staff to early states
By Evan Lips | October 23, 2015, 14:57 EDT
MIAMI – Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is downsizing portions of his campaign and has ordered across-the-board pay cuts while also planning on beefing up his ground game in states with the first contests, according to a staff memo obtained by multiple media outlets.
“Over the last four months our team has consistently reviewed our budget and made spending reductions, including budget cuts by department and salary reductions to senior and mid-level staffers,” the memo states, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “Today we are expanding those reductions in order to maximize our resources where they matter most: voter contact and personnel in the early states to ensure we can be successful in the primaries and caucuses.”
Friday’s report came days after Bush-backer Mike Murphy, head of the biggest candidate-specific super-PAC in America, told Bloomberg News that he’s confident there’s enough cash on hand to weather any early storms.
In the first half of the year, Murphy’s Right to Rise USA political action committee hauled in more than $103 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington. That’s roughly 10 times more money than Bush’s own campaign currently has on hand.
As of Oct. 1, Bush had raised $24.2 million, placing him third among Republicans, and spent $14.5 million in operating costs, Federal Election Commission records show.
The Right to Rise super-PAC is in the process of unveiling a new television ad in Iowa and New Hampshire as part of a $25 million advertising push, spokesman Paul Lindsay told FoxNews on Friday.
In the Bloomberg interview, Murphy maintained that Bush remains the candidate to beat when the voting starts. He said that the camp’s campaign strategy is focused more on the early months of next year than the present.
“Every debate, for a week, I hear, ‘this is the most important debate of the campaign,’ until the next debate,” Murphy told the news service. “And there are going to be 11 of them. Every poll is the most important, everything is do-or-die. And while that hyperventilating analysis has some impact in the donor world – witness the Walker campaign – our strategy is to actually peak on the voter’s timetable.”
Right to Rise, under federal campaign finance laws regulating super-PACS, is barred from steering money to the campaign to pay for things like travel and staff costs. The money can only be spent on fundraising and advertising.
As for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s canceled presidential bid, his chief backer, Unintimidated PAC has raised the second-most of this year’s super-PACs at $20 million, the center in Washington reported. It is still unclear whether Unintimidated will back a new candidate. Unintimidated spent only a little more than $2 million on Walker’s campaign before the candidate pulled the plug on his presidential ambitions, the center shows. The FEC records show the PAC had $19 million on hand at the end of July.
The Bush campaign memo indicates a 40 percent cut in payroll costs, with salary reductions for all but the most junior workers coupled with a dramatic downsizing of the staff based in the Miami headquarters. Most campaign workers are either in field offices already or have been offered lower-paying positions based in early primary states such as New Hampshire, according Reuters, which also cited the memo.
“It’s no secret that the contours of this race have changed from what was anticipated at the start,” the memo says. “We would be less than forthcoming if we said we predicted in June that a reality television star supporting Canadian-style single-payer health care and partial-birth abortion would be leading the GOP primary.”
Real Clear Politics puts Bush fifth in Iowa at 5.7 percent, based on an average of three separate polls. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson leads Republicans in the Hawkeye state at 25 percent, ahead of Donald Trump’s 21 percent. The website ranks Bush third in New Hampshire, trailing Trump and Carson.