Jeb Bush will announce for president in five days' time. But not before a significantly less-than-ideal run-up to this long (long, long, long) awaited announcement.
* The decision to install Danny Diaz as campaign manager was largely painted as a shakeup -- with Diaz stepping in after Bush boss Sally Bradshaw decided things weren't working optimally. (This Politico behind-the-scenes account of the moves and the motivations behind them is fascinating.) Campaign reorganizations are the sort of process-heavy stories that campaign work like hell to avoid. To have one before the campaign is even a real thing is remarkable -- and not in a good way.
* Reports are beginning to leak out that Right to Rise, the Bush super PAC, won't raise the $100 million over the first six months of the year that was being touted earlier this year. This from WaPo's Matea Gold:
The exact size of the war chest is closely held, but two individuals familiar with internal discussions believe the total that the Right to Rise super PAC will report in mid-July could be substantially lower than the nine figures that senior Republicans have anticipated.
Uh oh. Remember that the centerpiece of Bush's strength in the primary is his fundraising capacity. Sure, he might not be a perfect tonal fit for conservatives, Bush allies argue, but he has the money to win them over -- money that no other candidate will be able to match. Now don't fool yourself: The Bush super PAC is going to raise a ton of money and will still likely have a substantial edge over the super PACs of the other candidates.
But Jeb is competing against his own expectations here. And if he comes in well under the $100 million figure -- after postponing the official launch of his campaign until next week so he could raise as much money as possible for the super PAC -- Bush will have to answer a raft of questions about whether his campaign is sputtering.
* John Kasich is running. Kasich, the two-term governor of Ohio, bowed out of the 2000 presidential race when he realized that George W. Bush was an absolute juggernaut. This time around, Kasich is running toward the race (and toward another Bush) rather than away from it. His hires of John Weaver and media consultant Fred Davis, first reported by WaPo on Tuesday night, suggest that Kasich is putting together a quality campaign team that reaches well beyond the borders of Ohio.
And Kasich is clearly more interested because Bush has demonstrated some weakness.
The more credible and serious a campaign Kasich runs, the more problematic for Bush. Kasich occupies the establishment/pragmatic wing of the party -- the same slot Jeb needs to totally dominate in order to win the nomination. A governor from a swing state with a strong policy background, particularly on fiscal issues -- sound familiar?
* A new poll Wednesday showed Bush's lead over Marco Rubio in their home state of Florida declining from 15 points in March to six points today.
The good thing for Bush is that no one is going to cast a vote that matters in this race until February. And he is trying to avoid getting sucked into the vortex of this negative storyline -- delivering a major foreign policy address on Tuesday as part of his week-long trip to Europe. "I don’t read the polls," Bush said, smartly, on Tuesday in Germany. "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."
But as a snapshot of just how bad this week has been for him, look at how coverage of his Berlin speech was almost totally drowned out by the coverage of the campaign shakeup.
There are lots and lots of weeks between now and the Iowa caucuses. But even though it's only Wednesday, this is not one Jeb will want to repeat.