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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Inside Jeb Bush HQ, it's all about ignoring today's polls and focusing on the long game

The Bush campaign's headquarters last week was mostly empty

Adam Smith

The Bush campaign's headquarters last week was mostly empty



MIAMI — Jeb Bush on Friday completed another grueling week raising money and campaigning in Texas, Iowa, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida.

Here's what the candidate with the busiest schedule in the presidential race had to show for it: The latest polls have him sixth among Republicans in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and handily losing to Donald Trump in, of all places, his home state of Florida.

Back at "the Pit," as his team calls their dreary, fifth-floor campaign headquarters with a sweeping and equally dreary view of rooftops in Miami-Dade's Little Managua area, advisers seem keenly aware that, perception-wise, their candidate has reached a critical juncture. The last thing they need is for the sense that Bush is a washout to take hold. That image can be self-fulfilling and tough to turn around.

"The cable TV chatter is obsessed with early polling and that has the lowest correlation of nominating success of almost any indicator you can find," said senior campaign strategist David Kochel, whose Iowa nice demeanor masks a reputation for intensity and meticulous strategic planning.

"We wouldn't trade positions with anyone in terms of where we're situated. This campaign is built for a long nominating process. Few others are," Kochel said, sitting at a conference table inside an office with disconcertingly few people.

In a crowded field of credible Republican candidates, no one has anywhere near the extensive and far-flung campaign apparatus as the former Florida governor. Just look at his foothold in states voting in February:

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[Last modified: Saturday, September 26, 2015 8:27pm]


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