Bush Seeks to Convince Donors His Campaign Is on Solid Ground

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 7.05.22 AMMAGGIE HABERMAN Friday, October 30, 2015



Good Friday morning and happy Halloween. A busy week comes to a close with a busy day, as Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin is the newly elected speaker of the House and as Congress deals with the final steps of its budget deal. On the campaign trail, the victory-lapping, wound-nursing, analysis and blame-casting continues after Wednesday nights debate, where Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida had decidedly different nights.

As the dust that was kicked up during the third Republican presidential debate began to settle on Thursday, Mr. Bush found himself declaring repeatedly that his campaign is going forward.

“It’s not on life support,” Mr. Bush told reporters in New Hampshire, where he collected the endorsement of former Senator Judd Gregg, who has long ties to the Bush family but who had held off on endorsing until late in the year. It was a moment of good news for Mr. Bush that was nonetheless overshadowed by questions about his path after his rough debate.

Mr. Bush is known as deeply competitive and has tried repeatedly over the last few days to buck up his friends and supporters. But a grimness has set in among many of his allies and donors.
Several of Mr. Bush’s financial supporters say that they have seen no sign of anyone quickly jumping from his campaign, a move that would be considered bad form regardless of who the candidate is, but particularly in the case of the son and brother of former presidents.
But Mr. Bush is still facing an electoral landscape with a rancorous Republican base that has shown close to no interest in picking an establishment candidate as its nominee, at least so far. Donald J. Trump, who had blocked out the sun with his giant personality and endless television airtime, may start to get less attention as his poll numbers slowly dip. That would be Mr. Bush’s best opportunity to try to fight back.
But he will also have to decide how hard he wants to go after Mr. Rubio, a fellow Floridian who had a breakout performance in the debate. Mr. Bush’s aides have told donors and strategists that they want to attack Mr. Rubio. That strikes a chord of concern for some of Mr. Bush’s supporters and donors, who do not want to see Mr. Rubio damaged should he be the one facing a resurgent Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election.