Jeb Bush made a lucrative visit to Chicago last week. His PAC, “Right to Rise,” pulled in a record smashing $4.2 million dollars in just two events.
His first event was at the Chicago Club, where tickets were $1,000 a pop. Then there was dinner at the Lake Forest estate of investor Reeve Waud. To attend this shindig, you had to either give Jeb $25,000 or plan to raise this much. The host of both events was another moneyman – Mauneer Satter. The Sun Times’ Michael Sneed ran with the headline, “Jeb Hits the Jackpot.”
The Chicago Club event made national news when Jeb tried to differentiate himself from his father and brother by claiming that he was his “own man” and that he disagreed with his brother on some aspects of the Iraq war.
Who is Jeb Bush kidding? The Washington Post reported that 19 of the 21 people on his early list of advisers includes those who worked in the administrations of his father or brother. Clearly, he is not his own man. Jeb Bush is a clone posing as a new face. In reality, he is actually Bush 3.0. If you are sick of Bushes in the White House, you will run away from Jeb. The idea that this rotten apple has fallen far from the tree is preposterous.
The one Republican presidential hopeful who seems to be damaged by Bush’s fundraising is New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Many wealthy supporters, including the billionaire New York Jets owner, Woody Johnson, have opted for Bush.
Christie was already on thin ice before Bush’s tidal wave of cash from Chicago. The New Jersey governor was excoriated in a New York Times article for his stunningly lavish lifestyle. This included riding to Israel on the private plane of casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson. While on this junket, Christie took a side trip to Jordan where he partied at the King’s palace with U2 singer Bono and stayed in a luxurious Kempinski hotel room that had cost about $30,000 a night.
Here is an excerpt from the New York Times:
While many high-profile Republican politicians resist insinuating themselves into celebrity circles, Mr. Christie seeks them out — Howard Stern in the Hamptons; Donald J. Trump at Jean-Georges in Manhattan, where the menu begins at $128 per person. He danced onstage with Jamie Foxx at a celebrity benefit at the Hamptons in August before a crowd that included Barbara Streisand, Paul McCartney, Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro.
State taxpayers paid for Mr. Christie, his wife and two aides to travel to the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, as New Jersey prepared to host the 2014 game. Airfare for four passengers came to $8,146; Mr. Christie’s hotel for three nights cost $3,371.
When we heard that Chris Christie was living “high on the hog” we thought it was the buffet table. We had no idea that it was a fancy A-list lifestyle, while many Americans are scraping and clawing to lift themselves and their families out of the long recession.
Then Christie went to London to show that could handle foreign policy on the world stage. His trip was undercut by his vacillating and vexing comments on vaccination – where he was clearly trying to appeal to the knuckle-draggers in his party.
And let’s not forget his recent temper tantrum when he bullied a man asking him a question at a press conference by telling him to “sit down and shut up.” (Of course, there is also Bridge Gate.)
But the most recent article that came out in the New York Times was devastating. It began:
“Christie does not return phone calls. He does not ask for support. He arrives late for meetings. And he acts as if he has all the time in the world…the complaints have piled up for weeks, dismaying many longtime supporters of Gov. Chris Christie and sending others into the arms of his rivals for the presidential nomination.”
Ouch! The Times article went onto say:
• In Iowa and New Hampshire Christie’s negative ratings in some opinion polls are higher than his favorable ones.
• Friends say Christie is both understaffed and too controlling. (And these are his friends. Imagine what his enemies are saying)
• Some supporters critical of the governor’s campaign blame what they call “the Christie Bubble,” a tight-knit circle of advisors that have known him for years.
• He has been slower than Jeb Bush to lockdown support within the Republican Party’s pool of big-name bundlers….which is a classic rookie mistake.
• Friends also say (those lovely political friends, once again) that Christie is convinced that his raw talent and charisma can overcome political obstacles in his way.
Here’s what I think. Chris Christie is demoralized by the entry of Jeb Bush into the fray. He thinks that major donors are afraid to offend the powerful Bush family and back other candidates.
Christie doesn’t think he can beat the Bush machine. So, he’s going to kick back to see if the Bush candidacy implodes. He’s going to wait and see if grass roots Tea Baggers who despise Bush on immigration and education will undermine his nascent campaign.
If they do smother the Bush campaign in the cradle, this opens the door for Christie to come in and play hero. He can swoop in and save the party from a Ted Cruz or Rick Perry type at the last minute. (Just as may donors begged him to save the party from Mitt Romney in 2012) The idea is that he is the one candidate that grass roots conservatives and the Wall Street crowd can compromise on.
Of course, this scenario depends on Wisconsin governor Scott Walker being a paper tiger. If Bush tanks and Walker turns out to be the next Rick Perry or Fred Thompson, the GOP may beg Christie to enter the race.
So, Chris Christie may be the first victim of the Bush finical juggernaut we saw in Chicago this week. But, if he is a flash in the pan, Christie may enter the kitchen.