Jewish Jeb Donors Keep Faith
Jeb Bush’s early supporters and donors are mustering a lot of strength these days to maintain some hope and confidence that their struggling candidate will perform well enough in the Iowa caucuses and then win the New Hampshire primary.
On Thursday, Jeb tried to reassure his Jewish supporters with a highly energized performance and appealing message at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Presidential Forum in DC. Wearing a Jeb-in-Hebrew pin on the right side of his suit, the former Florida Governor presented a foreign policy similar to that of his brother George W. Bush, who’s admired by Republican Jews for his pro-Israel stance as president.
The reviews went from ‘he was okay’ to ‘this is what voters need to see.’
“I think Jeb is very, very thoughtful; he thinks things out, and he’s very, very bright. I know for a fact that he’s looked at about every opportunity to improve our country, and he has a plan to do so. He was high energy today. But he does that a lot,” Sam Fox, the former national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Jewish Insider.
According to Fox, “The so-called debates have not done well for him. His makeup is that he’s a nice person. He doesn’t get into arguments and doesn’t say bad things about other people. So, he’s up there but he doesn’t participate much because it’s not his action.”
Jeb even managed to get a good word out from a Rubio supporter. “He did a great job. I thought it was high energy,” Marc Goldman told Jewish Insider.
Ronnie Krongold, a longtime friend and supporter of the Bushs, had his own explanation as to why Jeb’s campaign is flailing. “Jeb is not a reality show. He has character and won’t say anything and everything just to get attention,” Krongold told Jewish Insider on the sidelines of the RJC forum. “Also, sometimes it’s tough when there’re 14 people to understand that he really understands an issue – because you can’t get it out there in a soundbite.”
“I think the polls are not reflecting the intelligence of his campaign because he isn’t giving the snap answers. He’s giving measured answers. As the campaign goes on, and some of those people are found out for what they are, he’s going to become stronger and stronger.”
Fox acknowledged that Jeb is in real trouble in the early primary states, and a win in NH is not a given. “I’m just telling you that in my opinion, out of all those who’re running, Jeb is the only one that would make an outstanding president.” But he maintained that “we shouldn’t get into who’s going to win.”
“Anyone that says at this point that he’s going to win, let him go see a psychiatrist,” Fox added.
Kronghold, however, was more optimistic about a possible comeback. “Jeb is going to do very well in New Hampshire and after that,” he said. “His message is terrific. And there’s a bottom line: he’s prepared to be the president of the United States.”
“What does Jeb need to do?” We asked Kronghold, who first got to know the former Florida Governor when they went together on a 14-day trip to Israel in 1983.
“He just needs to hang in there,” he replied. “He should keep saying what he is.”
But Kronghold also recommended an immediate campaign staff shakeup, saying it would be “terrific” if Jeb brings back veteran political consultant Mike Murphy, who’s now heading the ‘Right to Rise’ Super-PAC. “Yes. I would encourage it,” he said. “I think when you’re low in the polls, that the country does not understand who you are, these changes in the campaign staff will probably help him get his message out there.”
“Even if the polls are indicative of where he is, why not have both – good polls and have a baseline that you really know you have,” Kronghold argued.