NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, February 7, 2016, 6:20 PM
Hope — and money — spring eternal for Jeb Bush, who isn’t letting a lack of interested voters dampen his presidential aspirations.
Sources close to the former Florida governor say that his sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucus was even worse than they were expecting, but they’re vowing to take the buckets of cash their candidate has collected and win big in the Sunshine State.
“Bush did another swing through Florida and raised $ 500,000 at four events,” says an insider close to the GOP long shot. We’re told that cash was collected over the course of six hours the week of the Iowa caucus.
Bush “said, ‘We are still raising money and we are going to spend every dime,’ ” said the source with his campaign. “There is no talk behind rolling resources behind a different candidate. He saw Donald Trump’s second-place finish as weakness and feels that he has the experience to outmaneuver (Marco) Rubio.”
Our source says that the plan Bush outlined during his Florida hit-and-run consisted of battling through Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary and shoring up the Southern vote when South Carolina goes to the polls Feb. 20. Then he’ll use his nearly $ 60 million super PAC war chest to “ambush” fellow Floridian Rubio — who he thinks will be his main competitor when the race reaches their home state on March 15.
Bush insiders scoff at speculation that his campaign will throw in the towel if he gets slaughtered again in New Hampshire.
“They even think a fourth-place win would be a victory in New Hampshire,” said our source, reminding us that George W. Bush lost New Hamphire in the 2000 primary, but won the presidency.
Rubio’s dismal showing at last weekend’s GOP debate could help Jeb close the gap sooner than later, but either way we’re assured: “They’re building up for Florida.”
Jeb also plans to get his Mexican-born wife Columba Bush involved in wresting the Latino vote from Rubio in Florida.
“They want to underscore that Bush is not a white, WASPy, Republican who married someone from Connecticut,” we’re told.
According to our insider, Bush operatives have been riling up undecided Floridians by trying to convince them that Rubio sought the Senate seat he won in 2010 as a stepping stone to the White House, then abandoned his constituents to seek the presidency.
Bush is hoping that “making Florida Rubio’s Waterloo” will send a message to the rest of the country that Rubio’s own state wasn’t pleased with his leadership. They expect Donald Trump and Ted Cruz’s negatives to have overwhelmed them by that point.
“Trump keeps saying that Jeb is shaming his family legacy, but they don’t feel that way,” we’re told. “They would only be embarrassed if he quit.”