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The Daily 202: In the clutch, will Jeb Bush perform? Or choke?

Jeb! in New Hampshire (Reuters/Mary Schwalm)


— The stakes in tonight’s debate are as high for Jeb Bush as anyone else. A week after his campaign’s major downsizing, I’m hearing from some already-nervous Bush donors that they will close their checkbooks if the ex-Florida governor doesn’t have a breakout moment. Because he’s slipped in the polls, Jeb’s podium will move further from center stage toward the wings. This makes his mission of standing out even harder.

A Daily 202 reader sent me a copy of the 45-slide PowerPoint deck that the Bush high command delivered to bundlers on Monday at a retreat in Houston. It is unsurprisingly upbeat spin, but here are three takeaways from reading it and interviews with others about the state of Bush’s campaign:

The campaign is fixated on Marco Rubio, who has clearly emerged as the gravest threat to Bush: Campaign manager Danny Diaz wrapped up his presentation by ripping into Rubio, calling him “a GOP Obama” and stressing that “those closest to Marco chose Jeb.” Ben Carson and Donald Trump, the two leaders in the polls, were hardly mentioned in the PowerPoint. That’s not terribly surprising since they’re not in Jeb’s lane as a candidate, so they are not ultimately his biggest concern.

Rubio has gained on Bush in their home state of Florida, and both now trail Trump in the polls. The Tampa Bay Times, which routinely polls 160 top Sunshine State politicos, reports that “confidence is dropping” in Bush: “In late August, more than 85 percent of our Political Insiders predicted Bush would win Florida’s primary. This week, just 42 percent predicted Bush would win, while 33 percent said Rubio and 22 percent said Trump.” One cautionary note for Rubio: he must tread more lightly than Bush in attacking the other because he needs Jeb’s finance network to ultimately fall in line if he’s going to prevail.

The Bush team is leaning very heavily on establishment endorsements that mean almost nothing to real voters: For all the rhetoric about disrupting Washington, Jeb sure is proud of the backing he’s getting from paragons of the status quo. One slide notes that “Bush has more Congressional public support than any other candidate.” Another lists notable endorsements. Among them: Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. One of the anti-Rubio slides notes that Bush got 11 endorsements from the Florida House delegation and Rubio only got one. The campaign stressed that Rubio has not received a single endorsement from another senator, but Bush has three and 20 House members.

“Electability” is a core part of Jeb’s message to donors: Senior staffers stressed that Bush is the candidate who can win the White House, highlighting Bush’s standing with independents, Hispanics and women in national polls of registered voters. They also emphasize that Bush is seen as more presidential than Trump. The “communications plan” involves demonstrating that Bush “cares about people like me” and would be a “strong leader” as Commander-in-Chief.

Bush advisers believe that, if they can survive long enough for the field to winnow to two or three candidates, Jeb could be the most acceptable of those left standing. So, hypothetically, if the race comes down to Carson, Ted Cruz and Jeb, a lot of Republicans who don’t want to support Bush right now will rally around a better general election candidate. That argument was implicit in the discussion about ballot access in all 50 states and building an organization in states that vote later in the process.

One of the slides notes that Jeb “consistently” beats Hillary Rodham Clinton in the polls. The example given, from mid-September, shows the two within the margin of error. In keeping with that broader theme, the Bush campaign is releasing a two-minute web video today that contrasts Clinton talking about taxing the rich with Bush promising to return power to the states.

— Mike Murphy e-mailed donors last night to say that the Right to Rise super PAC is 55 percent of the way toward its fundraising goal for the second six months of the year (he did not say what that number is). The strategist noted that Trump was in second place in a national CBS/New York Times poll released yesterday, and that Jeb was “in a statistical tie” for third place. (He and Carly Fiorina each pulled 7 percent, behind Carson’s 26 percent, Trump’s 22 percent and Rubio’s 8 percent.) “At this early point in the race, third place is the perfect position to be in,” wrote Murphy, adding that Trump and Carson would “lose in a landslide” to Hillary. “As the race moves on, and GOP voters ‘move to quality,’ I am confident support for Jeb will continue to grow.”

To be sure, Bush has a lot going for him. He’s building a robust organization in the early states, with boots on the ground and lots of voter contacts. He still has way more money than most in the field and some of the smartest people in politics are working for him. His last name, while a major liability in a general, gives him a floor of support in the primaries that could keep him in the race into late March. He’s laying out detailed, substantive policy papers that help him position himself as the candidate of ideas. Yesterday, for example, Jeb outlined his plans for Social Security and Medicaid.

If Jeb does better in tonight’s debate than the previous ones, this could be a good week for him. Chuck Todd will go to Florida to interview Bush on “Meet the Press” Sunday. On Monday, the campaign rolls out an e-book, built around e-mails Bush exchanged with his constituents, to try highlighting the ex-governor’s conservative Tallahassee record.


— Trump whined about his falling Iowa poll numbers during a rally in Sioux City last night. “What the hell are you people doing to me?” he demanded of a crowd. “Iowa, will you get your numbers up, please? Will you get these numbers up? I promise you: I will do such a good job.”

— The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Mets 5-4 in 14 innings, taking a 1-0 lead in the World Series.

— The House Rules Committee approved the two year, $80 billion budget deal late last night, beating back objections over crop insurance and the price tag (conservatives tried to kill the bill at the late-night hearing). Leaders made a “technical fix” to fully offset spending, covering a $4 billion shortfall. The House is expected to vote today on the measure, which raises the sequester caps for defense and non-defense spending and increases the nation’s borrowing limit through March 2017. Watch for more hijinks on the floor, although GOP leaders need only about 40 to 50 Republicans to pass the deal.

Speaker-to-be Paul Ryan managed to remain unscathed by deriding the process (which “stinks,” he said), but Kelsey Snell and Mike DeBonis point out that the deal’s provisions are  “largely similar to the provisions of a deal Ryan struck two years ago with Obama and Senate Democrats.”

Assuming Congress approves the agreement, Ryan will still have some minefields on his hands. Congress must pass spending bills to parcel out the money by Dec. 11 and they contain controversial policy riders eliminating funds for President Obama’s executive orders on immigration; rolling back EPA rules; and blocking parts of Obamacare, USA Today’s Paul Singer notes.

— On Stephen Colbert’s show, Clinton said she would let big banks fail as president. She cited support from the New York Times’ Paul Krugman for her Wall Street plan. “They have to know that yes they will fail. If they are too big to fail then they may have to be broken up,” she said of the big banks.

  • Hillary said her presidency would not bring a return to the 1990s: “We’re not going back. I’m not running for my husband’s third presidency, or President Obama’s third term. I’m running for my first term.”
  • And she told Colbert that she and Bill “finally finished” catching up on Netflix’s “House of Cards.” She said she also watches “Madam Secretary” and “The Good Wife,” both of which are, like Colbert, on CBS. Watch the full show here.

— The editorial board of the Sun Sentinel, Florida’s second largest newspaper, calls on Rubio to resign: “If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it. … You are paid $174,000 per year to represent us. … Plus you take a $10,000 federal subsidy — declined by some in the Senate — to participate in one of the Obamacare health plans … You are ripping us off, senator.”

— A Clemson University poll finds that Lindsey Graham in a non-factor in his home state, getting only 3 percent among likely South Carolina primary voters. He has 100 percent name recognition, viewed favorably and unfavorably by an equal 44 percent. Trump leads with 23 percent, followed by Carson at 19, Rubio at 9, Cruz at 8, Bush at 7 and Fiorina at 6.


  1. Federal workers escaped direct hits on pay and benefits in the budget compromise moving through Congress. In fact, more than 100,000 federal employees will receive a special pay boost in January under new rules that were unveiled yesterday, including those in the Washington area. (Joe Davidson and Eric Yoder)
  2. Hidden in the budget deal is a provision that would let companies robocall Americans’ cellphones to collect any money owed to or guaranteed by the government, including federal student loans, mortgages and taxes,” per Danielle Douglas-Gabriel.
  3. “Fourth-graders and eighth-graders across the United States lost ground on national mathematics tests this year, the first declines in scores since the federal government began administering the exams in 1990,” per Emma Brown.
  4. The FBI, along with the Justice Department, will investigate the arrest of a South Carolina student after a video of her violent arrest went viral. The officer in question has previously been accused of using excessive force.
  5. The U.S. and other western powers invited Iran to join talks in Vienna over the future of Syria, but the regime has yet to reply. (AP)
  6. The Senate passed its cybersecurity bill, which would give companies legal immunity for sharing data with the federal government, 74-21. It now must be reconciled with a bill that already passed the House. (Andrea Peterson)
  7. The Air Force announced that Northrop bested a team from Boeing and Lockheed Martin to build 80 to 100 long-range strategic bombers over the next decade for an estimated $60 billion. (LA Times)
  8. After binge-watching AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” a New Mexico man allegedly stabbed and bludgeoned his friend to death because he thought he was becoming a zombie. (AP)
  9. The Democratic Governors Association put $300,000 behind an attack ad against David Vitter in the Louisiana governor’s runoff, featuring his Republican opponents from the jungle primary attacking him as untrustworthy and morally challenged. (Watch here.)
  10. “For the 24th year in a row, and by a wider margin than ever before, the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to urge the United States to end its economic embargo on Cuba,” writes Karen DeYoung. “Despite the Obama administration’s professed eagerness to do precisely that, the United States was one of only two nations to vote no.”


  1. Trey Gowdy is going to nominate Paul Ryan for Speaker inside the GOP conference meeting today. South Dakota’s Kristi Noem and Texas’ Jeb Hensarling will give seconding speeches. Ryan is expected to handily defeat Florida’s Daniel Webster.
  2. Ryan promised the House Freedom Caucus that he will not bring an immigration bill to the floor as long as Obama is president. (National Review)
  3. John Kasich has the best economic record of the governors running for president, according to a Washington Post analysis. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee lose. And Jeb is tied with Jim Gilmore. Kasich also signed Grover Norquist’s no-new-taxes pledge. (Jeff Guo and Jim Tankersley)
  4. Dennis Hastert is expected to plead guilty this morning in Chicago to charges related to making illegal bank payments as part of a plea deal. Dickstein Shapiro, whose lobbying practice the ex-Speaker led before resigning when he was indicted, has earned just 11 percent of its lobbying revenue compared to the same time period last year. (Catherine Ho)
  5. A group of House Republicans led by Jason Chaffetz moved to impeach the head of the IRS, John Koskinen, saying he violated the public trust and lied to Congress as it investigated the treatment of conservative groups. (Lisa Rein)
  6. Carly Fiorina said she donated to charity money earned from two paid speeches delivered after she became a candidate. (ABC)
  7. Bobby Jindal will debate tonight despite threatening to boycott the JV debate. And there will again be an undercard battle at the next Republican debate, sponsored by the Fox Business Network and Wall Street Journal, on Nov. 10.
  8. Rand Paul will try to filibuster any increase in the debt ceiling. Meanwhile, BuzzFeed highlights several quotes in Rand’s books that are attributed to Founding Fathers which they never said.
  9. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), one of the most outspoken progressives in Congress, became the 33rd senator to endorse Clinton. (Politico)
  10. Hillary now has 20 field offices in Iowa, with 78 paid staff. (Philip Rucker)


Why aren’t the GOP’s presidential stragglers dropping out of the race?” by David Weigel and Jose A. DelReal: “The run-up to Wednesday’s Republican debate has been brutal for Paul and no fun for the other half-dozen candidates mired in low single digits. Yet none of these candidates appear to be looking at the exits — even as some donors suggest that they should … The number of candidates hanging on by fingernails is not unprecedented, but it’s another complication for a Republican Party that wanted to avoid a “circus” primary. Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee — combined — have about $7 million in the bank, or barely half as much as Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. In their view, that’s plenty.”

Carson builds his platform but leaves many details unexplained,” by David Fahrenthold and Robert Samuels: “Ben Carson, whose appeal as a political novice has thrust him to the top of the Republican presidential field, faces a critical test in Wednesday night’s debate — defending a policy platform that he is building so fast that he and his staff have struggled to explain it. Carson, for instance, has indicated that he wants to loosen U.S. gun laws significantly. But his campaign says he doesn’t. Carson also said he wants to tax everyone at 10 percent, a system he said was drawn from the Bible. But Carson’s campaign says it could be 15 percent, or some other amount. Aides say to expect detailed plans in a month.”


— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Here is a breakdown of which Republicans are getting talked about going into tonight’s debate. Trump is tops, with Carson a solid second. Bush, Cruz, Fiorina and Rubio round out the top six:

The World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national soccer team came to the White House:

–Tweets of the day:

Lindsey Graham was tearing it up at a bar Tuesday night, and thanks to the Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic, CNN’s Dana Bash and The Post’s Dave Weigel, most of it was captured on Twitter:

Bash and Graham conducted a Q&A when he was reportedly three shots in:

There was some trash-talking between Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) before Game 1 of the World Series:

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the guy behind the motion to vacate the Speaker’s chair, sent this somewhat ominous tweet:

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) was another critic of the budget deal:

Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders reacted to video of a school resource officer violently arresting a high school student in Columbia, S.C.:

Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri threw cold water on a hard-to-believe Monmouth University poll showing Hillary leading by 41 points in Iowa:

–Instagrams of the day:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is pushing HRC-themed Halloween costumes (yes, really):

Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio visited Capitol Hill to lobby on school lunch nutrition standards:

Members gathered in the early morning to practice for the annual Congressional Football Game:


Politico, “Campaigns erupt over greenrooms at third debate,” by Alex Isenstadt: “During a tense 30-minute meeting at the Coors Event Center, which was described by three sources present, several lower-polling campaigns lashed out at the RNC. They accused the committee of allotting them less-than-hospitable greenroom spaces while unfairly giving lavish ones to higher-polling candidates, such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson … Trump was granted a spacious room, complete with plush chairs and a flat-screen TV. Marco Rubio got a theater-type room, packed with leather seats for him and his team of aides. Carly Fiorina’s room had a Jacuzzi … Then there was Chris Christie, whose small space was dominated by a toilet. So was Rand Paul’s … ‘This is ridiculous,’ fumed Christie’s campaign manager, Ken McKay. ‘We’re in a restroom’ … The RNC officials agreed to address the campaigns’ concerns.”

New York Times, “Freed prisoners of ISIS tell of beatings and torture,” by Michael R. Gordon: “Muhammad Hassan Abdullah al-Jibouri had long ago lost hope that he would ever make it out of the Islamic State’s jail alive, and he had not even seen the sun in more than a month. Then, early last Thursday morning, he heard the helicopters overhead. The 35-year-old police officer heard bursts of gunfire, and shouts in Kurdish and in English. Suddenly, the door to his cell was battered open. ‘Who is there? Who is there?’ a soldier yelled, first in Kurdish and then in Arabic. ‘We are prisoners!’ Mr. Jibouri’s cellmates yelled back. Mr. Jibouri was one of 69 Arab prisoners of the Islamic State freed in a military raid near the northern Iraqi town of Hawija last week, the first in which American Special Operations forces were confirmed to have accompanied the Kurdish forces onto the battlefield. On Tuesday, in their first interviews since being brought to the Kurdish autonomous region by American Chinook helicopters, four of the former prisoners described life under the thumb of the Islamic State.”

— The Onion, “I Am Fun,” by Hillary Clinton: “Furthermore, as indirect evidence of the fact that I have a fun disposition, I do not like things that are not fun.” Clinton herself responded on Twitter by linking to the parody and calling it “Humorous!”


Aid group bombed for the second time in three weeks. From Mother Jones: “For the second time in three weeks, a hospital belonging to the international medical aid group Doctors Without Borders has been bombed by warplanes. The latest attack occurred on Monday night in Yemen, where aircraft from a coalition led by Saudi Arabia attacked a hospital … While the group said patients and staff were in the hospital at the time of the attack, they did not report any deaths.”


Planned Parenthood doctor purportedly wants intact fetal heads for research. From the Washington Examiner: “A new Planned Parenthood video, the 11th in a series of secretly-taped interviews, shows a Texas doctor wishing to conduct an abortion that produces intact fetal heads for brain harvesting. ‘I haven’t been able to do that yet,’ said the doctor, Amna Dermish of Planned Parenthood Austin. ‘This will give me something to strive for.'”


–What’s happening today on the campaign trail: The Republican debate in Boulder airs on CNBC. The undercard starts at 6 p.m. Eastern, and the main event begins at 8 p.m. Bernie Sanders rallies supporters at George Mason University. Hillary Clinton is in New Hampshire to attend the 20th Anniversary Politics and Eggs Luncheon in Manchester and the Carroll County Democratic Committee’s Grover Cleveland Dinner in Bartlett.

–On the Hill: The Senate meets at 10 a.m.

–At the White House: President Obama returns to Washington from Chicago, meets with General John Allen and welcomes Prince Harry to the White House. 

QUOTE OF THE DAY: An angry John Kasich lashed out at his Republican rivals for peddling “crazy” ideas. “Let me tell you something, I’ve about had it with these people,” he said at an Ohio pep rally.


“We’re mostly cloudy today with occasional rain, and possibly a few afternoon thunderstorms that could produce heavy downpours and gusty winds. Temperatures start the day not too cool, in the mid-50s to low 60s. They’ll rise to afternoon highs in the mid-60s to low 70s,” per the Capital Weather Gang.

Maryland saw a drop in scores on national reading and math tests, as it included more English-as-second language students and students with disabilities. It was the only state with declines on all four tests included.


Funny or Die has a “Bye bye Boehner” send-off:

GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) has a more traditional farewell video, including an interview with the manager of Pete’s Diner (who says she calls him “John John”):

Watch the full White House ceremony honoring the champion U.S. Women’s National Team:

“This team taught all of America’s children that playing like a girl means being a badass,” Obama said. The 10-second moment is going viral:

Players Heather O’Reilly and Ashlyn Harris reflect on the day: