Jeb Bush made a massive 40 percent cut to his campaign payroll Friday, in one of the strongest signs yet the former frontrunner’s campaign is in trouble.
According to a paper released by his campaign, Bush is cutting pay for everybody except entry-level staff and even making some positions unpaid altogether. The cuts will save Bush’s campaign about $1 million a month.
“We are making changes today to ensure Jeb is best positioned to win the nomination and general election,” Bush’s campaign said in a statement. “We are moving our resources into the states to ensure that voters in primary and caucus states are introduced to his record and vision for the future.”
Cutting pay isn’t the only big shift Bush is making, according to a summary released by the campaign. Staff at Bush’s Florida headquarters is being slashed a whopping 75 percent, with the rest either let go or deployed to early primary states at a reduced salary. Travel expenses are being cut by 20 percent, as is 45 percent of its budget for activities other than advertising and voter contact.
The campaign is also changing its tactical approach, saying Bush will be making fewer fundraising appearances around the country and instead making more appearances in the early primary states themselves.
“We will use the campaign’s biggest asset—Jeb Bush—and put him in front of as many voters as possible,” the campaign said.
To avoid looking too rickety, the summary also emphasizes that Bush has substantial campaign operations in early primary states, with a total of 38 paid staffers and eight offices in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada. It also touts Bush’s “strong national finance operation,” which raised more than $13 million in the third quarter.
But while Bush is eager to spin the move as simply a tactical shift on his path to the nomination, it’s hard to avoid seeing this as a sign of weakness with just 100 days to go until the first GOP primary contest. That’s especially the case for Bush, whose frontrunner status is built as much on the perceived strength of his fundraising as it is on his showings in the polls.
Bush’s campaign was forthright that the the GOP race has been thrown in a totally unpredictable direction by the emergence of Donald Trump.
“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,” the summary said. (RELATED: Jeb Is Cracking Like An Egg Under Trump’s Pressure)
Long popular with the GOP establishment and considered a favorite for the 2016 nomination, Bush has struggled to rise in the polls as the primary race has increasingly come to revolve around the outsider candidacies of Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. A recent Iowa poll shows him mired in fifth place with just 5 percent support, along with another 5 percent who name him as their second choice. Even in New Hampshire, which his own campaign touts as a stronghold, Bush is polling in third place behind both Trump and Carson.
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