Don’t worry about the low poll numbers, Jeb Bush’s operatives are whispering to backers. He’s in for the long haul.
The former Florida governor is sitting atop piles of cash, which he is about to unleash. Soon, he will eviscerate his Republican presidential opponents with attack ads and recast himself from effete scion of an outdated political dynasty to a roaring, snarling cheetah sprinting to victory.
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Or, Bush could become just latest candidate to discover that, when it comes to the presidency, money can’t buy you love.
Here are some previous presidential candidates who had overflowing war chests but still did not receive their party’s nomination.
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Phil Gramm: Republican Sen. Gramm of Texas spent $20 million in 1996 seeking the Republican presidential nomination, according to besttexans.com. But Gramm went down quickly anyway. After losing to populist Pat Buchanan in Louisiana, and placing fifth in the Iowa caucus, Gramm was out.
Edward Kennedy: With substantial family money and the financial support of labor unions, the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy had little problem with campaign finance in his failed bid for the White House. Rather, it was concerns over Chappaquiddick and issues related to Kennedy’s character that prevented him from gaining the support of those who were disappointed with then-President Jimmy Carter and who might have accepted another Democratic candidate. Kennedy ended his bid for the nomination at the National Convention with what many feel was the best speech of his career, stating, “For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
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Howard Dean: In 2004, the former Vermont governor led Democrats in the early stages of the 2004 Democratic primaries campaign. He ranked first in total raised with $25.4 million as of October, and first in ready cash with $12.4 million. In total, Dean’s campaign raised about $50 million in his bid for the nomination.
Dean’s director of grassroots fundraising, Larry Biddle, came up with the idea of a fundraising “bat,” an image of a cartoon baseball player and bat that appeared on the website every time the campaign launched a fundraising challenge, and which would fill up like a thermometer when goals were met. But with respect to votes, the bat was less than full.
Dean came in a disappointing third in the Iowa caucuses. He made things worse with an awkward scream — also known as the “I Have a Scream” speech — following the loss, and his fate was sealed.
John Edwards: In the first quarter of 2007, the Edwards campaign raised more than $14 million, with almost $3.3 million raised from more than 37,000 contributions made over the Internet, according to CNN. In June 2007, Edwards campaign adviser Joe Trippi sent out a fundraising email stating the campaign had a goal of raising $9 million in the second quarter and $40 million before the Iowa caucuses. Fraught with drama, including $400 haircuts, an iron-willed but ill wife suffering with cancer, and campaign staffers publicly accused of bigotry, Edwards’ second bid for the White House ended soon after a third-place showing in New Hampshire.
Edwards was later charged with campaign finance fraud. He was accused of violating federal campaign finance laws by “secretly obtaining and using” contributions from wealthy supporters to conceal his mistress and their child during his bid for the Presidency. Edwards was acquitted of one charge, and a mistrial was declared for five others.
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Rudy Giuliani: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 campaign was well-funded, raking in $17 million during the first quarter of 2007 alone. But somehow, “America’s Mayor” ended his run $2.4 million in debt. His strategy of using his cash to pass up Iowa and New Hampshire to focus on bigger states failed. Giuliani’s appeal as a can-do mayor did not translate well to presidential appeal.
Jon Huntsman: A former Utah governor and ambassador to Singapore under President George H. W. Bush, Huntsman ran for president in 2012 with a net worth listed between $11 million and $74 million. A day after announcing his campaign, Huntsman raised $1.2 million, and then added approximately $4.1 million in the first weeks of his candidacy.
Huntsman reportedly contributed $500,000 to his campaign in order to pay his staff and keep campaign operations going while his father, Jon Huntsman Sr., donated around $2 million in ad buys through a super PAC, according to opensecrets.org. But Huntsman was out of the race by January.
John Connally: The former Texas governor engaged in one of the most famous presidential campaign busts of all time in 1980, when he spent a then-whopping $11 million and received just one delegate, known forever as “the $11 million delegate.”
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