Jeb Bush, whose presidential campaign has been struggling, is cutting pay across the board for his campaign staff, taking some senior staff off the payroll completely and canceling some of his fundraisers, Bloomberg reported Friday. These cuts come as part of a major course correction in response to worrying donors and falling polls in recent days.
Just months away from the beginning of the primary contests, Bush’s advisers have been looking for ways to shake up their strategy and refocus as his campaign continues to lack the enthusiasm and support of his rivals' efforts. The one-time front-runner, Bush now stands in fifth place with 7.2 percent in the Real Clear Politics polling average, and he has seen even lower poll numbers in some recent surveys.
The campaign will save more than $1 million a month with the new cuts, which include losing some consultants and paring down to a smaller staff at their Miami headquarters. All staff saw a payroll cut of 40 percent this week, according to Bloomberg.
The overall campaign budget is also getting slashed by 45 percent, with only money for TV advertising and voter contacts -- such as mailers and phone calls -- remaining untouched. While some junior-level consultants will leave the campaign, some senior-level staff will stick with the campaign on a volunteer basis.
Bush has received some more attention recently due to his clashes with Republican front-runner Donald Trump, after the New York tycoon criticized Bush’s brother -- former President George W. Bush -- for his handling of the 9/11 attacks. However, Bush advisers told Bloomberg that they have been looking for other ways to energize their campaign that do not involve dealing with Trump. Most of the changes being made this week, though, are financial and not issues that will directly affect how voters see Bush himself.
These changes, according to Bloomberg, are designed to allow the campaign to focus its efforts on New Hampshire, where the campaign has the campaign already has a large operation, and other early primary states that will begin holding contests in February.
After the third quarter campaign filing deadline, Bush had $10.3 million on hand, which put him in the middle of the pack among Republicans. His super PAC, Right to Rise USA, raised $103 million in the first six months of the race, putting him at the top of all candidates running by that measure. But as was demonstrated by the two Republicans who already dropped out of the race this cycle, super PAC funding cannot carry the whole burden of a presidential campaign.
The changes to Bush’s campaign structure this week put him more in line with other cash-strapped candidates and take him farther from his former front-runner status. Fortunately for his campaign, the next Republican debate is fast approaching, so the former Florida governor will have another chance to show personality and convince supporters he’s doing alright when he gets on stage in Boulder, Colorado, Wednesday night.