Bush Is Still Waiting for Polling to Catch Up With Fund-Raising

NYT FDMaggie Haberman 9/1/2015

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Good Tuesday morning. Though the political world will be poring over the latest batch of emails from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s time as secretary of state, Jeb Bush’s campaign is hoping a new month will help bridge the sustained gap between his success in fund-raising and his lagging poll numbers.

September has finally arrived, and for Mr. Bush, it isn’t a moment too soon.

Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, has not had a seasonal respite from his breakneck fund-raising of earlier this year. Nor has he had a stretch of good headlines. Instead, he’s had Donald J. Trump, a middling outing in the first Republican debate, and a string of supporters wringing their hands about when things will improve.

The “super PAC” supporting Mr. Bush is set to go on air with television ads this month in the hopes of turning around his numbers. Mike Murphy, his longtime adviser who leads the group, has publicly sounded unconcerned about Mr. Trump’s ascension and insists there is no need to act any sooner.

At the same time, the campaign has had to trim its sails in terms of spending, budget cuts that aides described as prudent rather than desperate. Three junior fund-raising consultants parted ways with Team Bush in recent days; while they were described in some reports as “key,” their roles with the super PAC have ended as well. In many respects, this is the product of Mr. Bush running his pre-campaign and his super PAC in tandem for six months. When the two were disentangled, the campaign was flying without a net, and officials there took some time to adjust.

His fund-raising team, by all accounts, has been among the more tumultuous campaign divisions, in part because of scheduling issues and in part because of personality clashes.

They are still adjusting, it seems, since budget concerns were the main reason Mr. Bush shook up his campaign before it started. Mr. Bush’s aides believe he is held to a different standard from other candidates, much like Mrs. Clinton, and they point to a cash advantage that is still likely to dwarf that of his closest competitors. But Mr. Bush will need to start putting some points on the board, and soon, to shake off a rough beginning.