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Jeb Bush downplays his campaign staff shakeup

Jeb Bush addresses a meeting of the Economic Council of Germany's Christian Democratic Party in Berlin on June 9. (Wolfgang Kumm/AFP/Getty)

This story has been updated.

BERLIN — Former Florida governor Jeb Bush said Wednesday that he is “pretty confident that we’re in a good position, for sure,” as he prepares to launch his presidential campaign in a crowded field of GOP contenders.

Taking questions from reporters outside his hotel here, Bush downplayed the significance of his decision to name operative Danny Diaz as his campaign manager, rather than longtime Iowa strategist David Kochel, who had been expected to take the role. Kochel will have the title “chief strategist” instead.

Bush is on a five-day swing through Europe, and will travel from Germany to Poland on Wednesday. After a stop in Estonia, he will head back to Florida for the official launch of his campaign on Monday.

The change in his campaign staff, Bush said, was not based on his weaker-than-expected showing in the early polls, and represents “nothing other than just the magnitude of the journey, you know.”

“It’s a pretty overwhelming challenge, and so I decided to kind of split up the duties,” Bush said. “And David has got great success in these early states, particularly Iowa. He also has got a great strategic mind. And Danny’s a grinder.”

He also insisted that the polling at this point means nothing.

“I don’t read the polls. Polls are, you know — it’s fun to see them when you’re winning. Not so fun when you’re not. It doesn’t really matter, though. It’s June, for crying out loud, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Bush said.

He added that his own approach will be to stick to a longer view of his strategy, which he insisted will include competing across the map — an apparent reference to speculation that he would largely sit out the first caucuses in Iowa, which are dominated by social conservatives and considered to be an uphill climb for him.

“I’m pretty confident that we’re in a good position, for sure. And I’m going to compete everywhere,” Bush said. “If I’m a candidate, there’s no fifth place, you know, kind of mentality in my mind.”

Later on Wednesday, during a trip between Berlin and his next stop in Warsaw, Bush made an unannounced visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp. He is scheduled to attend a roundtable with Polish civil and business leaders in Warsaw on Thursday.

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