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As we approach the end of the week, it’s a good time to ask which of these stories from the past several days means the most to the Republican presidential field. These would be both short-term and long-term considerations. In the short term: the August 6 Fox News candidates’ debate in Cleveland. In the long term: strategies for coming back to Cleveland next summer and accepting the party’s nomination.
1) Bush Money. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Jeb Bush’s Right To Rise super PAC is unlikely to reach its $100 million target by the month’s end. Team Bush could still reach that figure, but to do so might require some accounting gimmicks such as factoring in the accumulated sums of Right To Rise, a separate Bush leadership PAC, plus whatever money’s in the actual campaign that becomes formal next week. Then again, maybe it’s an elaborate head-fake and Bush will beat the street estimates. Regardless, word of a potential financial underperformance spread like crazy over the Internet. Why such interest? Because money is at the heart of the Bush campaign — its strategy, its media validation. So, if true, is this a big deal, little deal, or no deal at all?
2) Rubio Rubbish.On Monday, The New York Times ran this headline: “Marco Rubio’s Career Bedeviled By Financial Struggles.” It chronicled how the Florida senator caught a break by getting an $800,000 advance to write a book about growing up as an immigrants’ son. It claimed that Rubio squandered $80,000 on a “luxury speedboat”. It turns out the S.S. Rubio is a modest offshore fishing boat — in the manufacturer’s words: a craft meant for “safety-minded family boaters and avid anglers”.
So much for the Times leading us to believe that Rubio is the GOP’s Sonny Crockett . . .
It’s the Grey Lady’s second piece on Rubio in the last week — the other “exposing” how Rubio’s received four traffic tickets in the last 17 years. Could this be the break Rubio was looking for — a way for his candidacy to benefit (financially and from conservative talk radio) from the perception of media bias?
3) Santorum No-Shows. On Monday, all of one Iowan showed up for a Rick Santorum campaign event in the small town of Hamlin, Iowa (there must be a Pied Piper joke somewhere in this). By the time Santorum was done, the audience had swelled to four. According to the RCP Average of Iowa polls, Santorum is running ninth among GOP presidential hopefuls — he’s the middle of a Christie/Trump sandwich. Over the weekend, Santorum got into an exchange with Fox News’ Chris Wallace over not having a spot in a nationally televised debate if the cutoff is 10 candidates. Wallace’s advice: (quit your whining and) improve your numbers. Which would seem true in terms of both polls and earned-media.
4) Aye, Carly? The former HP chair is in New Hampshire this week, working the Granite State after announcing endorsements from more than a dozen state legislators. “This is a place where it doesn’t mean you have to be the most well-known candidate, or the best financed candidate. I’m neither. I’m not as well-known as many, and I don’t have as much money as many, so this is an important place for me,” Fiorina told reporters. Still, she has to find a way to become better known if she’s going to crack that elusive debate top 10. Here’s Fiorina’s challenge for the next six weeks, based on numbers from this Fox News poll released a week ago. The GOP field breaks down as follows:
(1) Bush/Walker 12%
(3) Carson 11%
(4) Paul 9%
(5) Cruz 8%
(6) Rubio 7%
(7) Huckabee 6%
(8) Christie 5%
(9) Perry/Trump 4%
(11) Fiorina/Graham/Kasich/Pataki/Santorum 2%
So how does Fiorina, in this scenario, crack the top 10 (granted, this is just one Fox poll and not a blend of several national polls, which will be the debate’s standard)? She stands to gain if Trump doesn’t run. Maybe she also catches a break should Christie have a change of heart (he’s expected to cannonball in around late June/early July). The bad news for her: Kasich and Jindal could get poll bumps if and when they announce (Jindal will make his intentions known on June 24; look for Kasich to say something in July).