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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb's frustration simmered in 2000



Some dramatic new details about Jeb Bush and the final weeks of the 2000 presidential election in Florida are coming out in the new book One Party Country: The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century, by Tom Hamburger and (former St. Petersburg Times reporter) Peter Wallsten.

It seems Gov. Bush was a lot more worried about Al Gore's Florida prospects than the Bush-Cheney campaign team in Austin, Texas, and became mighty frustrated that Karl Rove wasn't listening to him seriously enough and taking his advice on Florida strategy. "Something's got to give," Jeb Bush said at one tense meeting in the governor's mansion with Bush-Cheney strategists, including Ken Mehlman and Chris Henick. "You guys are not listening."

From the book: "In the final week, Jeb took matters into his own hands, ordering the state Republican Party to commission its own poll using his campaign's Washington firm, Public Opinion Strategies. The new poll showed that Gore had pulled ahead by at least one percentage point. Even among white males the Texas governor was struggling. Sally Bradshaw, Jeb's chief of staff, took the results to her boss. "What do we do with these numbers?" she asked.

Jeb directed Bradshaw to call Austin immediately. But instead of moving swiftly to deal with the apparent erosion of support, Rove and his brain trust were furious that Jeb and his team had done a poll on their own. Campaign officials believed their numbers were better. The conversation grew so tense that at one point Bradshaw called Rove a jerk. On Election Day, when the Florida problem finally became clear to Rove, Bradshaw advised him to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into phone calls, especially in the conservative Panhandle, to mobilize voters.

-- Adam Smith

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 3:07pm]


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