To say that the Bush campaign is flailing about is being charitable and gracious. The campaign is in deep trouble and it has the defensive instincts of a baby harp seal.
After being the target of a couple of months of direct attacks from Donald Trump, the Bush campaign has decided to hit back with this ad which highlights the various left wing positions taken by Donald Trump at various times in his life:
First, the Bush campaign released an 80-second online video that used old footage of Trump to call attention to his history of conservative apostasies. A succession of clips shows Trump describing himself as “very pro-choice,” a fan of single-payer healthcare, higher taxes on the rich and President Obama’s stimulus package, and a Hillary Clinton supporter. “I’ve lived in New York City in Manhattan all my life, so, you know, my views are a little bit different than if I lived in Iowa,” Trump says in a snippet from a 1999 Meet the Press interview that the Bush campaign uses both to open and close the ad.
As they say, don’t wrestle with a pig because everybody gets muddy and the pig loves it.
Yet another weak hit by a candidate with a failing campaign. Will Jeb sink as low in the polls as the others who have gone after me?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2015
The answer would seem to be yes, Jeb Bush is heading for a long stint in single-digit country. And part of the reason is that, like the Bourbon’s, the Bush campaign has forgotten nothing and it has learned nothing. As my colleague, Dan McLaughlin, pointed out earlier today, Trump is getting his attention free of charge. Bush had to pay one of his bevy of consultants to research and produce the YouTube ad above (see more on how consultants make good money by being pathetic, incompetent losers in this piece by Erick). What makes this ad seem so stupid and dysfunctional is that the content has already been focus-tested and rated #FAIL:
Trump’s faced similar Republican-in-name-only criticism before. Megyn Kelly and co. grilled him on his liberal past during the Fox News debate early last month, and Bush and other GOP hopefuls have been increasingly trying to paint him with a Democratic-branded brush of late. Such criticism, though, has failed to strike a chord with Trump’s unique band of supporters, many of whom appear more attracted to the businessman’s anti-establishment anger and brash bluster than his specific policy views. When a well-known GOP pollster recently showed a focus group a few of The Donald’s greatest hits—which included his support for single-payer health care—Trump supporters reported liking their man more than they did before they saw the footage.
This implies that the Bush campaign is either playing some kind of Obama-style, sophisticated, four-dimensional chess and is trying to siphon Kasich, Christie, Pataki, etc. voters away because they hate Trump… or, Bush is relying on morons and is personally detached from his campaign.
After the ad runs, Trump sends out a tweet and generates articles everywhere covering the Bush-Trump feud. There is a reason why one of these men is a billionaire. Note in this CNN piece, Trump is the story and not Bush’s ad:
Donald Trump on Tuesday hit back at Jeb Bush’s accusation that the billionaire businessman is not a true conservative, amid an intensifying feud between the two Republican presidential candidates.
Seriously. and Bush is a ‘true conservative’? Bush’s ad seems to be a feeble attempt to answer the “Act of Love” ad Trump aired earlier in the week counterpointing Bush’s famous assessment of illegal immigration with the pictures of Americans killed by illegals.
In an environment where large parts of the electorate feel alienated, where massive portions of the GOP base feel like we’ve been used like the drunk fat girl at the fraternity party, and where 59% of the nation seems to be in favor of massive deportations my guess is that being called a RINO by Jeb Bush isn’t going to hurt Trump very much.
Jeb Bush is very much in a death spiral. He has to start attacking Trump because Trump’s critique of Bush is beginning to become the Conventional Wisdom, yet there is no indication that much, if anything, hurts Trump. Bush is shedding advisers and it is doubtful that his fundraising will be as robust in upcoming quarters as it was in the first one. From all reports, Bush is spending lavishly on staff and consultants so we can expect his burn rate to be high. Keep in mind that Bush’s only Unique Selling Proposition was “I’m electable” and his only strategy was to suck all the money out of the donor class. Now he’s in a 17-person field where everyone is taking shots at him, raiding his voters, and courting his bundlers. This is not the way a coronation is run.