Jeb Bush's plan
Jeb Bush and his allies have been trying to spin the media for awhile now -- remember when he was begging reporters to be the first to write his "comeback narrative"? -- that he was going to pull off a McCain-style comeback. Here's the current plan from the New York Times:
1. Attack Trump
2. 5th place in Iowa
3. 3rd place in NH
4. Get Lindsey Graham's endorsement
5. Bring in George W Bush for South Carolina
6. Super PAC money raised a year ago
Reading that list, it's impossible to ignore the feeling that some of Jeb's consultants want to keep the paycheck alive. It might be their best shot, but even doing all the things on that list probably won't win the nomination.
At its core, they are betting they can somehow get third in NH which will make them relevant enough to do well enough in South Carolina so they can get to Super Tuesday and hope no one else has raised enough Super PAC money to compete.
Any advantage from Jeb's Super PAC money doesn't become terribly useful until we get to Super Tuesday. Since Super PACs are paying inflated rates for early state ad buys compared (9x more than what a campaign pays!), they've already spent tens of millions and gotten nothing out of it.
So for Jeb to have a chance they have to hope they can get to some states where a financial advantage would make a difference. Of course, by the time they get to Super Tuesday, it's quite possible that other candidates will have been able to raise enough Super PAC money to wipe out that difference.
Plus the other obvious problem with any Super PAC money advantage: Mike Murphy's ads so far haven't moved the needle for Jeb at all. Some of that is Murphy's ads, but some is just due to the fact that Republican primary voters think they know Jeb Bush.
Jeb's larger problem is one of message.
At the core of McCain's 2008 comeback was a risky bet that none of his competitors were willing to make. McCain went all-in for the Iraq surge at a time when everyone else -- even the Republicans -- equivocated. When the surge worked, McCain got a second look in a rather weak field.
Attacking Trump isn't a message. It's a tactic - one that hasn't worked at all so far.
I don't know why Jeb is still in the race.
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