Tropical Storm Erika nearly forced Jeb Bush's presidential campaign to call off a donor reception planned for Monday night in Coral Gables. But the storm dissipated before reaching Florida and the event will still take place, at the home of auto executive Manny Kadre, one of the donors told the Miami Herald.
The hometown fundraiser comes as Bush tries to contend with slower summer fundraising and the phenomenon of Donald Trump, the 2016 Republican presidential frontrunner whose stunning rise in public-opinion polls has stunned veteran GOP campaign operatives. Bush has seen his popularity slip, in some polls behind both Trump and Ben Carson.
Grappling with a tougher, longer slog of a campaign, Bush has started going after Trump. Some Florida donors were eager to see a more aggressive Bush -- like the politician they remember in the Governor's Mansion -- but the shift in strategy has its risks. Bush used the term "anchor babies," which immigration advocates consider offensive, after Trump did, giving Bush the kind of unflattering headlines that make it more difficult for fundraisers to get donors to open their wallets.
Bush's staff has tightened some of its spending, as the New York Times reported. It also lost three fundraising consultants, as Politico reported, though the trio will remain active with Right to Rise USA, the super PAC backing Bush. (Saint Petersblog has an invitation to the Gables fundraiser here.)
Between the campaign and the super PAC, Bush reported more than $100 million raised last quarter, far more than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat. But he also has a big staff that needs to get paid.
With most of Bush's early donors maxing out their contributions, the campaign has been forced to look for new people to tap for cash. That includes younger, less affluent professionals being courted by Bush's two sons, George P. (who lives in Texas) and Jeb Jr. (who lives in the Gables).
A Sept. 24 Miami event hosted by Jeb Bush Jr. lists 13 elected officials as "honorary co-chairs": U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam, state Sen. Anitere Flores, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and South Florida state Reps. Frank Artiles, Michael Bileca, Jose Felix Diaz, Manny Diaz, Erik Fresen, Jose Oliva, Holly Raschein and Carlos Trujillo.
On Tuesday, Bush plans to stay in Miami and attend a back-to-school event at La Progresiva Presbyterian School in Little Havana.