GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who was at one time considered a shoe-in for the party nomination, is now facing a do-or-die warning from senior fundraisers who say he needs to correct his sinking poll numbers in October or face losing key supporters.
The former Florida governor over the weekend downplayed his dwindling poll numbers, telling Fox News Sunday the "polls don't really matter," reports The Washington Post
and he and his super PAC are readying an aggressive ad campaign, but a recent national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll put him in fifth place with just 7 percent of the voters.
The donor warnings are coming after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker left the race, refocusing the establishment voter race between Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who now leads his former mentor in almost all of the polls.
Even more telling, about a third of Walker's bundlers have switched to Rubio, with fewer going to Bush, sources close to discussions reported to The Post.
Bush is also coming under fire for a series of awkward comments, including telling South Carolina voters that Democrats win the black vote by telling them "we'll take care of you with free stuff," which Democrats said contributed to a pattern of GOP candidates insulting minority voters.
Bush also suffers from an unusual problem, said Republican strategist Henry Barbour: people know his name, so they think they know him.
"I think if people get to know Jeb and they give him a chance, he's going to be tough to beat," Barbour said, "But they don’t know him yet. And you've got a right wing of the party that is almost determined not to get to know him."
People in the Bush camp say their campaign's massive war chest will allow him to outlast his opponents, but privately, Rubio's rise is worrying his advisers, the GOP fundraiser said.
New York real estate mogul Donald Trump is still maintaining a commanding lead in most polls, but even in his home state, Rubio is ahead of Bush, with a Florida Atlantic University poll
last week putting Trump in first place with 31.5 percent, Rubio at 19.2 percent, and Bush at 11.3 percent.
Bush's family is leading a series of fundraisers to boost his campaign, which had about $120 million split between it and his super PAC at the end of June, and fundraisers who bring in at least $50,000 by Wednesday will be invited to a "Jeb Celebration" retreat in Houston featuring Bush family members, including both former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush.
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