Bush Heads to Europe to the Sound of Musical Chairs

NYT FDMaggie Haberman 6/9/2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 10.08.13 AM

Good Tuesday morning from Washington, where, a day after returning from Group of 7 meetings in Germany, President Obama will move his attention to defending his health care law, and where a senator clears time for blueberry muffins. And Jeb Bush begins his own Europe trip as he switches some job titles on his team.

As Mr. Bush arrives in Germany on Tuesday, he hopes to focus on global affairs and to project confidence.

But he is certain to face questions about a shake-up in his campaign structure, a version of musical chairs that placed staff members in different roles and came after a period of extended tumult.

Mr. Bush, who is expected to formally announce his candidacy on June 15, elevated the veteran operative Danny Diaz to campaign manager. The person who had been expected to fill that role, the Iowa operative David Kochel, will be the campaign’s chief strategist, focusing on building political operations in early voting states. Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist with long ties to the Bush world, will be on the campaign, but not as the national political director, as was expected.

The changes were necessary for a Bush team that had become stultified by tensions and a lack of clear lines of authority. The staff roster quickly became bloated. Mr. Bush’s aides say they hope that things will run more smoothly after the changes that have been put in place.

That is almost certainly also the desire of Mr. Bush, who has been stalled in polling in early states and who has sustained several self-inflicted wounds.

Mr. Bush is known to keep his own counsel, often listening to aides before going a different way – as was the case when he enthusiastically backed an Indiana religious rights bill after his advisers suggested a different course, according to four people briefed on the issue.

Several Republicans have compared Mr. Bush’s situation to that of Senator John McCain of Arizona in 2007, who went on to win the nomination. That campaign underwent a shake-up around this time that year, and endured similar culture clashes between newer aides and those who had had Mr. McCain’s ear for years.

But the dynamics are somewhat different: Mr. McCain came into the race a media darling and a war hero with a compelling story.