In a statement Friday morning announcing the moves, campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said, "We are making changes today to ensure Jeb is best positioned to win the nomination and general election. Jeb is the one candidate with a proven conservative record, bold ideas and the strong leadership needed to fix the problems America faces. We are moving our resources into the states to ensure that voters in primary and caucus states are introduced to his record and vision for the future."
The campaign, which entered October with $10.3 million in the bank, is taking significant steps to curtail spending. It is slashing its budget, excluding media and voter contact efforts, by 45 percent from its June plans, and is reducing ties to some consultants to eliminate what the campaign sees as extraneous overhead costs.
The campaign also is reducing payroll by 40 percent, including salary cuts for every employee save the most entry-level staffers. Only 25 percent of the staff will remain at the Miami headquarters, with another 25 percent already in early voting states, and the majority of remaining staff offered positions in the states or as part of a ballot access team at a reduced wage.
The campaign also will cut travel expenses by 20 percent and overhaul Bush's schedule, shifting focus from fundraising events to make space on the candidate's calendar for more town hall meetings and other retail campaign stops in the early voting states.
In a two-page memorandum outlining talking points for supporters, the Bush campaign cast the changes as "deft" moves to position Bush for the long haul. The campaign is doubling down on its organizing efforts in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, as well as its investments in data and digital programs.
The campaign is placing what it calls "a special focus" on its New Hampshire operation, which already includes 12 paid staffers. The Bush team has long eyed the Granite State's primary as his best opportunity for an early victory.
"We are in this campaign to win," read the memorandum. "We will take every single step necessary to ensure Jeb is the Republican nominee and next President of the United States. We are unapologetic about adjusting our game plan to meet the evolving dynamics of this race to ensure that outcome."
Bush plans to adjust his message on the campaign trail to better woo voters, according to the memorandum. The campaign will deliver several direct pitches to voters, including "Jeb Can Fix It," arguing that after President Obama's two terms Bush is the only candidate in the 2016 field who can "fix" what he sees as broken in Washington. Bush also will make an "experience vs. experiment" argument, comparing his Florida record to his opponents who have less experience in government or who "cannot be trusted."
Bush has been considered the fundraising leader of the Republican field in large part because of the $103 million he raised in the first six months of this year for his allied super PAC, Right to Rise, which can accept unlimited donations.
But Bush has had a harder time raising money for his official campaign, for which donations are capped under federal law at $2,700 per person. The campaign raised $13.4 million in July, August and September — a solid haul, but not enough to maintain the kind of national campaign infrastructure he had been building in Miami and the early voting states.
Bush has raised just 5 percent of his primary money from donors who gave him $200 or less so far this year, for a total of $1.2 million in all. Even former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee beat him in small donations, collecting $1.3 million so far, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute.
Such a tiny base of grass-roots support can be perilous for a campaign, which needs to be able to rely on a constant infusion of cash as it expands.
This is the second round of belt-tightening in Bush's campaign. In August, some top aides had their salaries shaved, and there were other targeted cutbacks to create a more lean operation, as The New York Times first reported, though Friday's announcement is far more sweeping.
Two people familiar with the campaign said they were not surprised by the news. "This necessary tightening has been in the works for a while," said one, who, along with his colleague, asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the changes. The extent of the cuts, hefty for some senior staffers, became evident in the last few days through conversations with campaign advisers grumbling about the cuts.
The announcement comes ahead of a quarterly strategy summit with major supporters in Houston this weekend, where top donors will hear updates from senior campaign officials and visit with members of the Bush family, including former president George H.W. Bush and former president George W. Bush.
Matea Gold and Tom Hamburger contributed to this report.