THE JEB-MITT PIPELINE
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may yet jump into the presidential race in some way before everything is said and done, say some supporters, but if he does, it will be to the detriment of the man he has been steering many of his top-flight staff and supporters.
As it stands, Florida's former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, former house speaker Allan Bense, U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, who was Bush's 1994 gubernatorial running mate, two former state party chairmen, Van Poole and Al Cardenas, and Bush's former press secretary, Kristy Campbell, and former campaign manager and chief of staff Sally Bradshaw all have signed on with Romney.
And Bradshaw, according to Romney insiders, is continuing to recruit Jeb acolytes to the Romney cause. Many will be attending the Romney fundraiser in Washington on February 27th. "No one is endorsing anyone right now," says a Romney fundraiser, who was encouraged to look at Romney by the former Florida governor for whom he also raised money. "But I wouldn't be working for Mitt if I hadn't been steered in that direction."
While some social conservatives are balking at Romney, others are looking at the way Jeb Bush has been helping him, and see it as a sign that Romney is the real deal on social issues. Others aren't so sure how to interpret it.
"I know where Jeb stands, because he's been consistent," says one Jeb supporter, who has thus far blunted pressure from her former colleagues to sign on with Romney. "I worry that if Jeb decides to get into the race in some way, or down the road, that his perceived support of Romney will hurt him with the base if Romney fails to gain the support of social conservatives."
A FEW DOLLARS SHORT
There is talk in Republican fundraising circles that while Sen. John McCain's take for the first quarter of 2007 in political dollars will blow the doors off of just about every other Republican candidate, his Federal Election Commission filing may be filled with a few surprises: namely, that smaller donors and direct mail donors are not responding to McCain's entreaties for support.
"You also hear that he's not getting the same kind of support from New York types and Hollywood types that he has in the past," says a fundraiser for another campaign. McCain is expected to hold a major New York event before the end of the first quarter, with an internal goal set at more than $2 million.
Such a haul would be surprising, given the way that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been trying to corner the fundraising market from Wall Street and the business community in New York.
"Right now, the only other candidate who can go toe to toe with Hillary here in New York is Rudy [Giuliani]," says a Democrat fundraiser in Manhattan. "Over the years, he's done a lot more for these people than Hillary has done. He has the ties that bind to these folks that people like McCain don't have."
Similar things could be said for Giuliani and Hollywood, where last week it was rumored that Brad Grey, the chairman and CEO of Paramount, and formerly an agent to a number of high-profile actors and actresses, was signing on as a fundraiser for "America's Mayor" in Los Angeles.
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