On Friday, the Washington Post ran a story that can only show the credulousness of their political reporters… or the extent to which they are willing to pass on propaganda as news. If you recall, on Thursday, US News published a leaked donor presentation that showed the Bush campaign was in deep trouble in Iowa. This is the kind of thing that happens in floundering campaigns. Bad information starts leaking from every pore and seam. The Washington Post came to a different conclusion. They determined that the Bush campaign was using clever campaign jiu-jitsu:
The “leak,” like so many “leaks,” may have been an intentional move to pass information to a pro-Bush super PAC.
Bush’s campaign got a lot of credit for its massive fundraising push at the beginning of the campaign. The largest figure, though, was money that flowed into Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting the former Florida governor. In the first half of this year, Right to Rise raised over $100 million, money that it can spend on Bush’s behalf.
The problem for the PAC is that it can’t coordinate legally with Bush on where to spend that fortune. It has to do its own thing, making educated guesses about where and how to advertise or otherwise contact voters.
Unless, that is, there’s public information it can act on. Bush’s campaign can’t call Right to Rise and say, “Hey, we need help in Iowa.” It can however, make an internal document public for the world — and the PAC — to see. Carpenter’s point? That was precisely the plan.
See how clever they were. Their Super PAC couldn’t look at poll numbers or talk to Iowa GOP reps about what was going on in Iowa. They thought everything was going great. But the leaked briefing that showed Bush had only FOUR volunteers in the entire state was like scales dropping from their eyes. Now they can plow tons of money into Iowa and presumably double the number of volunteers. Seriously. If you were going to leak something to tip off your Super PAC as to what you need you would hope that it didn’t entail telling them to focus on the first primary state in the nation and you certainly wouldn’t leak something that made you look wildly ineffectual an fed into the miasma of flopsweat hanging over your campaign.
Today, the POLITICO, at the behest of some campaign, tries to troll [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] on the same issue: super PAC activity.
The super PACs backing Cruz’s presidential run have yet to reserve any TV time in the early primary states – or anywhere else – despite a combined $38 million warchest that ranks second only to Jeb Bush’s $103 million operation.
The total absence of ads has created confusion and growing consternation inside the Cruz campaign, which cannot legally communicate with its allied super PACs and has had to watch as their rivals lock in tens of millions of dollars in ads before prices spike, as they typically do as elections near.
“I assume they’re waiting so their media buyers make the highest commission,” one Cruz adviser quipped.
The story goes on:
An internal document from the Cruz super PACs suggests they did not originally intend to wait so long to go on air. A PowerPoint presentation appealing to donors, posted on the group’s website over the summer and since taken offline, said that Keep the Promise would roll “out a positive campaign in key primary states around the first debate.”
That never happened.
The same presentation warned that “television rates start to skyrocket in December making it impossible for candidates to define themselves and their views so therefore are defined by the Media.”
Cruz’s campaign has tried to send signals to the super PACs in the hopes that they would air ads to introduce Cruz to the electorate. Over the summer, the campaign posted on YouTube hours of unedited, glowing testimonials from Cruz’s family telling soft-focus stories about a senator known mostly for his stridency. It amounted to a public plea for the super PACs to use the footage. Yet no such ads have aired.
This is all true yet monumentally deceptive. Campaigns evolved. Over the summer, Scott Walker and Jeb Bush never visualized being where they are today. Ben Carson certainly didn’t. But Cruz has been very, very successful in moving voters his way based on earned media. His high profile clashes with [mc_name name=’Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000355′ ] have raised his name recognition. His debate performance brought in nearly $800,000 that evening.
What the article is trying to do is give the illusion that the Cruz super PAC is doing nothing useful and simply waiting for media markets to tighten before buying, thereby, as the unnamed “Cruz adviser” said, increasing the commission due to the media buyer.
This article has two purposes, neither of which is to expose unrest in the Cruz campaign over the activities of an entity they can’t legally communicate with. Purpose number one is to deter more giving to the Cruz super PACs. The message to donors is that those super PACs are in existence solely to enrich consultants. They are doing nothing. Your money would be better spent by a real campaign… like Jeb Bush’s or [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ]’s. The second message is to the super PACs. That message is that your brand is being ruined because of your lack of spending so you had better spend. The hope there is that the super PACs will be stampeded into spending just for the sake of giving the illusion of doing something.
What it shows is that the tight efficiency of the Cruz campaign, his fundraising prowess and his success in garnering free beginning to weigh on the minds of his competitors.