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  1. Florida Politics

Pro-Bush super PAC spending $10M-plus on initial TV campaign

DES MOINES, Iowa — The heavily funded super PAC backing Republican Jeb Bush will spend at least $10 million on television time in the earliest voting presidential primary states, the first barrage in a massive TV ad campaign to support the former Florida governor's bid for the Republican nomination.

Officials with Right to Rise USA say they will buy time in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina TV markets and on cable television in the three states. Ads are scheduled to begin in Iowa and New Hampshire on Sept. 15, in South Carolina a week later and then run continuously through the end of the year.

The plan, shared by the group with the Associated Press prior to the buy, is the first evidence of Right to Rise USA's major strategic spending of the roughly $100 million it had on hand last month. It's also the first major move by the group, which was developed by longtime Bush adviser and California ad maker Mike Murphy, to run alongside Bush's own campaign organization, which is bound by federal fundraising limits.

"We believe Jeb Bush has the strongest record of conservative accomplishments in the race, and we plan to tell that story," Paul Lindsay, communication director for Right to Rise USA, told the AP.

The first ads will be positive spots promoting Bush in a field that includes 16 other major GOP candidates. They will resemble videos on the group's website, promoting Bush and his accomplishments as Florida governor from 1999 to 2007. One piece was taken from clips of Bush from the Aug. 6 Republican debate in Cleveland, Lindsay said.

That does not mean the group's ads won't turn to criticizing Republican rivals once the first contests draw near. The group has already aired one online ad that points to Bush's release of decades of tax returns and publication of thousands of emails sent during his time as governor, to draw comparisons with Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, who recently turned over her private email server to the FBI under pressure.

The new expenditure, which Lindsay described as an "eight-figure" buy, is significant because it's the first big expense for the group that Bush helped raise more than $103 million to finance, and which is expected to perform other campaign functions in support of the former governor.

Under Federal Election Commission rules, Bush, having declared his candidacy June 15, is now forbidden as a candidate from directly soliciting money for the group or advising how to spend it. However, before declaring his candidacy, Bush worked with Murphy on a long-term strategy where the super PAC would complement the campaign, which is bound by fundraising restrictions that don't apply to super PACs.

In June, the group announced it had met its ambitious goal of raising more than $100 million, taking full advantage of the nation's campaign finance laws to collect $103 million over the first six months of 2015. In June, the group had a balance of $98 million.

No candidate for president has benefited from so much money so early in a campaign.

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