During the 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan cultivated a following of disaffected Democrats, known as “Reagan Democrats.” The cross-over vote almost certainly helped Reagan crush Jimmy Carter at the polls. Now, Jeb Bush is developing his own cadre of “Bush Democrats” but this crop sports more than just blue politics—their attraction to Bush is because of blue blood.
Jeb Bush smells like money. The scent emanates from him like a perfume, and it attracts the rich, establishment types from both parties in the same way Reagan attracted blue-collar workers to his cause. This is all the more ironic and remarkable since Jeb is the “black sheep” in the Bush family who didn’t follow his siblings into mega-business, but ran off to Central America for love, not money.
Last weekend, while Sen. [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] plotted in his sub-basement lair, Gov. Bobby Jindal attended the funerals of Lafayette shooting victims, Sen. [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] took on the entire United States Senate, and Mike Huckabee was comparing President Obama’s Iran deal to Nazi ovens, Jeb Bush was working hard—in the Hamptons.
Behind a garden modeled on Monet’s, Jeb Bush addressed a lawn-full of chief executives and hedge-fund managers at an East Hampton, New York, estate Saturday morning. While the candidate is no stranger to courting wealthy donors, this time was different: about half the attendees were Democrats.
“This guy sells well,” said Kenneth Lipper, the money manager and registered Democrat who hosted the event, after Bush left. Virtually the only one who left without writing a check, Lipper said, was a buck deer that wandered past the group assembled on the wooded grounds.
The quintessential Bush Democrat is a rich investment banker who feels a kinship with the steadying hand of Bush number three. Unlike the anti-business rhetoric (side by side with rapacious hypocrisy) of Hillary Clinton, or the socialist ranting of Bernie Sanders, Bush represents a third way for wealthy Democrats. They can live with a Republican who calls for a path to illegal alien citizenship, who repudiates the Iraq war, and who in general agrees with them more than he disagrees.
This one quote reminds me of Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” bomb—at least Bush didn’t say it himself, but it’s damning just the same.
“People with money like him,” said Andrew Sabin, 69, a top local Republican fundraiser and a co-host of one of the Bush events. “I’m sure there’s a lot of poor people that like him too. It so happens there’s not a lot of poor people in the Hamptons.”
Nope. “Poor” people in the Hamptons are the ones who clean houses for the real residents, where, according to Bloomberg, the “entire annual income for the median U.S. household—$50,000—wouldn’t cover more than 900 of the summer rentals here listed on one brokerage’s website.”
Although Hillary is very much at home in the Hamptons (struggling as one of the “poor,” according to herself and nobody else), Bush does very well among the rich Democrats–the Bush Democrats.
But Lipper estimated that the crowd of about 70 at his event was almost evenly split between the parties, and virtually every one of them donated to Bush. Lipper, 74, said he introduced Bush as the candidate who will “bring unity and civility to the process.” He was impressed when Bush started his visit by introducing himself to Lipper’s kitchen staff.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it when Democrats cross over to support a Republican candidate, but this kind of cash crossing-the-palm isn’t what I had in mind, and in fact works against Bush.
There’s only one thing to say to a candidate who earns such gushing praise—and cash—from rich Democrats: its takes one to know one.