Jeb Bush’s announcement this week that he’s considering a 2016 presidential run appears to have dropped the starting gate on the GOP primary, with other potential Republican hopefuls like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Dr. Ben Carson following with their own, telltale moves.
The Facebook announcement Tuesday by Bush, a former Florida governor, that he is “actively” exploring a White House bid was followed within hours by two Google ads buys from Paul’s leadership political action committee.
The first Rand PAC ad appeared in the search results of those who Google searched Bush’s name.
The second appeared more like an attack ad, considering it included the line “We need leaders who will stand against Common Core,” the national school-curriculum standards supported by Bush but opposed by conservative-minded supporters of state autonomy and less government.
Later that night, Paul, who says he’s “still a few more months” away from making a 2016 decision, said on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” that “Most of us believe in less federal government and more decentralized government, particularly with education. ... For Jeb Bush to run in the primary will be very, very difficult."
David Payne, a Republican strategist and a senior vice president at Washington, D.C.-based VOX Global, gave a mixed review of what he called the “digital shadow boxing,” suggested GOP 2016 hopefuls will have to do more and better.
“Facebook is a part of the established media landscape,” Payne told FoxNews.com. “Jeb Bush wasn’t breaking any new ground with his announcement on this platform. He’ll need to be a lot more innovative to get Republican primary voters interested in him.”
He also said Paul’s counter punch was “intelligent but the expectation” from the relatively tech savvy Paul followers.
“It’s critical for (the candidates) to get smart about their balance of digital versus traditional media,” Payne also said. “Republicans running for president merely have to glance at the online campaign of Barack Obama in 2012 for the sobering reasons to significantly raise their investment in digital and social media.”
The effort to get Carson elected also got in the mix before the end of the day.
The National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee said it will on Saturday open an office in Iowa, which historically holds the first caucus of the presidential election cycle, then followed by the New Hampshire primary.
“We are so far ahead of the pack in Iowa and New Hampshire,” John Philip Sousa IV, the SuperPAC’s national chairman, told FoxNews.com on Wednesday.
Still, Sousa insisted that the announcement wasn’t prompted by Bush’s big news, saying his group had been looking for months for office space.
Political strategists argue that if Bush indeed triggered a starting gun it was the one that forced big donors to get their money off the sidelines, particularly those waiting to see if Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney would try to become the party’s establishment candidate.
“If you’re going to run, go do it,” Robert T. Grand, an Indiana-based Republican donor, who was one of the leading donors to George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign, told The New York Times. “I think you’ve got a short period of time. This announcement triggers the start.”
Still, other strategists argue that Bush’s announcement was not a 2016 turning point, in large part because he also plans to open a leadership PAC, which will help him travel around the county to speak but is not a full-fledged campaign PAC.
Two others top 2016 GOP hopefuls also appeared to use Bush’s announcement to draw attention to their own efforts.
Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz told Fox News’ “Special Report” that Bush is a “good man” but said he would wait until Bush officially decides in the coming months before assessing his potential impact on the GOP primary.
Still, the first-term, firebrand senator subtly staked out his turf, ahead of a potential run.
“It is not a surprise that Washington fights hard against anyone trying to change the culture,” he said. “But I can tell you, outside of Washington, people are frustrated … with politicians who say one thing and do another.”
A spokesman for Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, another potential White House candidate, told reporters: "Marco has a lot of respect for Governor Bush and believes he would be a formidable candidate. However, Marco's decision on whether to run for president or re-election will be based on where he can best achieve his agenda to restore the American Dream -- not on who else might be running."