VAL 2016 | Som under alla valkampanjer har årets sin beskärda del av färgstarka politiska konsulter. En av dessa är Mike Murphy.
Right to Rise, som Murphy ansvarade för, var en välfinansierad Super-PAC som stödde Jeb Bush. Som mest samlade man in hela 118 miljoner dollar.
Matt Labash tecknar ett både roligt och intressant porträtt av Murphy i den konservativa tidskriften The Weekly Standard.
När Bush hoppade av var det också dags för Right to Rise att stänga butiken. Men Murphy är fortfarande stolt över att Bush inte nedlät sig till Donald Trumps nivå.
Han har en hel del att säga om valkampanjen och varför Right to Rise och Bush misslyckades. Och han är inte nådig när han talar om Trump och Ted Cruz.
Like all hired guns in his trade, he’s taken his share of mercenary money just for the check. But Murphy says when it comes to presidentials, he thinks it matters more and is a sucker for long shots. ”I have friends I believe in who want to run. I’m a romantic, so I keep falling for that pitch.” Jeb wasn’t exactly a long shot, I remind him. Like hell he wasn’t, says Murphy. It’s a hard slog, not being a Grievance Candidate this year. ”He was the guy who was handing out policy papers when Trump was handing out broken bottles.”
Even pre-campaign, however, when they were allowed to coordinate as Right to Rise was amassing its unprecedented war chest, well before Trump’s ascendancy, both knew that despite the media billing Bush the prohibitive favorite — a position they both detested — they were facing long odds. (The assumption was Ted Cruz would be occupying the anger-candidate slot that Trump has instead so ably filled.)
Murphy says Bush regarded this election as a necessary tussle between the politics of optimism and grievance. At a preseason dinner, Murphy gave Bush his best guess of their chances of winning — under 50 percent. ”He grinned,” Murphy says, ”and named an even lower number. I remember leaving the dinner with a mix of great pride in Jeb’s principled courage and with a sense of apprehension about the big headwinds we would face.” And though he’d also have told his friend, if he’d been allowed to speak to him, that he was proud of Jeb ”for fighting his corner,” ultimately, Murphy admits, ”there is no campaign trick or spending level or candidate whisperer that can prevent a party from committing political suicide if it wants to.”
Bush was incapable, Murphy says, of coming up with lines about ”electrifying the border” or ”cutting the index finger off of every Muslim-American so they can never reach a trigger. He would never do that. If Trump turns out to be the answer, I’m incredibly proud that Jeb Bush did not want to be any part of the vile question.”
The campaign, he admits, was rocked by Trump’s ”low-energy” label, which stuck and hurt Bush. It’s kind of rich, suggests Murphy, since Jeb was a famous workaholic as governor. ”If Trump kept up Jeb’s schedule for one day, he’d be in the hospital.” Trump’s low-energy charge, Murphy says, was ”code for ‘Jeb’s not furious at anybody.’ He doesn’t open a rally with ‘I want everybody to write down the name of any Mexican they know and put it in a bin because they are going to pay.’ It was all a code word for ‘civilized.’ Jeb was the anti-Trump in a Trump year. But being the anti-Trump is a huge badge of f — ing honor. I think you get that tattooed on your forehead: ‘I’m the anti-Trump.’ People will be congratulating him on that the rest of his life.”
But what especially irks him are critics (”the bumper sticker glue” crowd he calls them, as in outsiders who second-guess your campaign right down to the kind of glue used on the bumper stickers) acting as though it were Right to Rise’s duty to take out Trump.
Not only was Jeb taking swings at Trump last fall, back when the likes of Cruz and Rubio were gingerly padding around him, seemingly auditioning to be coat-check boys at one of Trump’s tremendous, amazing properties. But according to Right to Rise’s numbers, the super-PAC spent nearly 15 percent of their TV advertising on anti-Trump ads.
Yes, they went after others, including and especially Rubio, just as hard if not harder, spending 33.4 percent of their TV advertising on ”other candidate contrast ads.” But, Murphy reasons, even if they had successfully taken down Trump, Jeb wasn’t about to get Trump’s voters anyway. In essence, Murphy would have been using hard-won donor money to clear the field for competitors who stood a much better chance of picking off Jeb’s voters (Rubio), as well as Trump’s (Cruz).
Not to mention, nobody has figured out the secret sauce for taking down Trump. Several deep-pocketed PACs have thus far not managed to. Even Trump seems unable to stop Trump, though it sometimes feels as though he’s trying harder than anyone.
As for Cruz, Murphy does not TrusTed and has no plans to fall in line with the man shaping up to be the Establishment’s hold-your-nose-and-kiss-your-sister Trump alternative: ”I think he’s cynical, totally cynical. . . . I don’t think he could win a general election, so he’ll be wiped out. It’s a choice between Trump, who is terrible for the country, and Cruz, who is terrible for the party. He’s too smart for his act . . . and he’s probably pissed that a bigger con man showed up.”
Murphy does speak well of John Kasich, his choice of the leftovers. ”I like Kasich a lot. He’s the only grown-up running.” He wishes Kasich well, as he labors to stay above the Friars Club roast, to be substantive and constructively positive, to offer people hope. But Kasich, Murphy adds, has an impossibly tall order this year: ”He’s trying to start an opera club at a tractor pull.”
Läs mer: Rebecca Bergs ”Mike Murphy: The Man Selling Jeb! to America” på Real Clear Politics.
Tidskriftsomslag: The Weekly Standard, 28 mars-4 april 2016.