Starting guns aren’t usually fired by contestants, as that would give one competitor an unfair edge over all the others. But Jeb Bush pulled the trigger on the race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination last week, and so the race is on —the race for donors, staff and airtime.
In the money sweepstakes, Bush is out to an early lead. Sitting in for me on my show Friday, “Hot Air”‘s Ed Morrissey asked “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd about the race for big donors now on between Bush and New Jersey governor Chris Christie.
“I think Christie’s going to be on the losing end of this,” Todd told Morrissey.
“I mean, look, Jeb Bush basically is the number one fundraiser, right now, will end up being the number one big fundraiser in Texas, the number one big fundraiser in Florida, the number one big fundraiser in California, and he might end up being the number one guy even in Wall Street in New York, because remember, a sitting governor has to be careful who he raises money from on Wall Street,” Todd added. “It’s a big, it’s a little bit of an arcane issue, but there’s a lot of issues there with sitting governors when it comes to raising Wall Street money.”
Interestingly, Todd threw Mitt Romney into the mix of candidates hurt by Jeb Bush’s quick kick though the 2012 nominee remains off the field, saying little and preserving all of his options. Todd did not mention Sens. Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or soon to be former Texas Governor Rick Perry, all of whom are more or less already running and about to start raising their own troves.
The implication is that those three, and perhaps other insurgents like Ben Carson or Carly Fiorina or sitting governors like Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and John Kasich will find enough money in places other than where Bush and Christie prospect.
Perhaps, but as has been reported in National Journal and National Review, the Texas senator has been out on the West Coast meeting people though not asking for money or support — yet. Come the first of the year, though, all of the would-be presidents have to start dialing for dollars lest they fall far behind Team Bush.
They also have to find campaign directors, social media gurus and writers. In the hunt for talent, Christie scored a big win luring former Republican Governors Association executive director Phil Cox on to his team, and the Cruz staff is all but built out and ready to go.
Which leaves the competition for messaging time. Interestingly it was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio who dominated that space last week, assisted by President Obama’s unilateral repudiation of half a century of bipartisan policy on Cuba. Rubio was quick to denounce the move in eloquent appearances that had many saying “Reaganesque.” Senator Paul didn’t much like that spotlight on a potential rival and stepped into it as well. That shows 2016 is truly underway.
Watch and see who shows up on talk radio this week and the next two as the new year gets going and the campaign lurches from zero to sixty in three weeks. And listen carefully — you’ll hear whispers of donors opening wallets and choosing between Bush and Christie, while the best talent gets inked to one team or another. The season of free agency for campaign personnel is upon us, and the talk circuit is open for the willing, the able and the genuinely interested.
More than ever before, the would-be nominees have to live where the voters scroll, listen and watch — on Twitter, on talk radio, on the sets of Red Eye and the shows of Megyn Kelly, Sean Hannity and Jake Tapper.
Jeb called go, and they are off.
This column was originally posted on WashingtonExaminer.com.