Jeb Bush changed tack this week in his battle for the Republican nomination, moving away from his original desire to engage in a non-negative campaign and instead chose to speak out against current front-runner Donald Trump. Bush accused Trump of being a closet Democrat.
It's the latest sign that the Bush campaign is feeling the heat from Trump, whose popularity has soared in recent weeks.
This popularity has garnered Trump loads of free media attention which is worth tens of millions of dollars to the candidate. Bush has been left out of the limelight and must now pay for exposure.
For the citizens who see little difference between the two parties, Bush’s lamenting of Trump’s donations to Democratic politicians over the years carries little weight.
Additionally, wealthy donors frequently don’t discriminate between political parties, viewing donations mostly as a cost of doing business. Trump seemed to hint at this sentiment by illustrating that his past experience with donations demonstrates his awareness of how broken the political system is in this regard.
Bush, being the prototypical career politician, has little he can say to directly address this point especially in light of his Super PAC raising upwards of $100 million in recent months.
Trump’s attacks on Bush for being a “low-energy” candidate have also resonated with voters.
Prior to this week Bush had failed to articulate a single policy position while Trump, love him or hate him, had listed many.
Bush’s desire to engage “joyfully” in his campaign for the nomination has made him sound more like a prayer group leader than someone in contention for the presidency.
The increased publicity around Trump has further complicated the campaign strategy of Bush. Competing town hall events in New Hampshire this week for the two candidates saw Bush with lackluster attendance in comparison to Trump’s full house.
In an August 19th CNN/ORC poll of potential presidential matchups, Trump v. Clinton fares slightly better than Bush with the spread as follows: 52% Clinton 45% trump, 51% Clinton 43% Bush.
While polls at this early stage, especially in light of an upcoming $10 million ad blitz by the Bush camp, are relatively meaningless, they still highlight that in the race for the GOP nomination, Bush has his work cut out.