Jeb's Super PAC kicks off $24-million TV campaign to introduce the candidate
The Super PAC backing Jeb Bush today kicks off a $24-million TV campaign for Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina that aims to educate Republican voters who, according to the committee's internal polling, know surprisingly little about Bush beyond the last name.
"As governor, he helped create 1.3-million new jobs. He vetoed billions in government spending. He cut taxes $19-billion, balanced eight budgets, and shrank state government," says the narrator before Bush appears on the screen. "... The state was Florida. The governor was Jeb Bush. Proven conservative. Real Results."
The pro-Bush Right to Rise Super PAC raised $103-million through June 31, and its leader, media consultant Mike Murphy, said it will spend nearly a quarter of that to keep a pro-Bush message on TV in the three early voting states through the end of the year. The first ad starts in Iowa and New Hampshire today and starts in south Carolina in a week.
"People have a lot of curiosity of Jeb Bush, but outside of Florida they don't know much about him. They know he's from Florida, many know he was the governor, some know he was interested in education policy. That's about it," Murphy said, citing research by the Super PAC's pollsters. "So the first step in a long, process of both telling Jeb's story and talking about his conservative vision for the country is to talk about some of these most notable accomplishments."
Once viewed as the overwhelming frontrunner for the nomination, Bush has dropped to seventh place in Iowa and fifth place in New Hampshire, according the average of recent polls compiled by RealClearPolitics, while political outsiders including Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and, especially, Donald Trump have surged. While Right to Rise plans to release a web ad contrasting Bush's positive message to "Trump, who is America's number one critic," Murphy said the reality star's political impact factored little in the message of the committee's first TV ads.
"Everybody knows Trump's story. That's why Trump has a ceiling. He has an appeal to maybe a third of the primary voters, which is why he'll never be nominated," said Murphy, Bush's longtime ad-maker and political adviser. "Our focus is Jeb's much wider appeal and how do we communicate that to voters in the early states."
The committee's pollsters and research team tested 20 different messages about Bush's record and background. In New Hampshire, three quarters of those messages led at least 40 percent of people who heard them to have a "much more favorable" view of Bush, Murphy said. In South Carolina, 19 of those messages played that effectively.
"This will be a long, slow process," Murphy said. "We have always had a strategy of being on the voters' time table, not the echo chamber or the media buzz or the poll of the minute that's online."
Right to Rise is barred from coordinating directly with the Bush campaign, but under today's Byzantine campaign finance rules it can echo and immitate the message and look of the campaign itself. Right to Rise had cameras present to film Bush's announcement in Miami, for instance, but in the TV ad it digitally removed campaign logo from Bush's lectern. Likewise, it uses red background to highlight the name Jeb, just as the Bush campaign does, but opted against the exclamation point -- JEB! -- that the Bush campaign uses.
Except for brief breaks during holidays, Murphy said Right to Rise TV commercials will continue through the end of the year in the three early voting states, Radio spots will begin in Iowa and New Hampshire in about 10 days, a bit later in South Carolina.