DES MOINES, Iowa— It’s not Jeb Bush’s first trip to Iowa, but for a candidate who has spent more time in the other early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, his latest three-day swing through the Hawkeye State feels decidedly like a restart.
After a rough summer, the candidate has headed into the fall with a renewed emphasis in making his case – especially to Iowa voters this week. And he notes that the first nominating contests are still months away, and many voters are just beginning to tune in.
"If the election were held in the first week of October I'd say, 'uh oh,'" Bush said of his standing in the race.
The governor has honed his stump speech to knock his Republican rivals while simultaneously answering questions about the motivation for his own candidacy.
“You can’t be the large voice in the room disparaging people and dividing people and calling people idiots,” he said, alluding to opponents who he says put more emphasis on talk than real issues. “The simple fact is it’s not about the big personalities on the stage or the small personalities – it’s not about anybody running for president.”
“I worry about all sorts of things that are going on in this country because of the lack of leadership in Washington D.C,” he said.
The new push comes as Bush’s campaign released a highly produced web video, titled “Why I’m Running." His team also spent time this week highlighting additional Iowa endorsements from local leaders who had previously pledged support to Scott Walker and Rick Perry before those governors dropped out of the nominating contest.
For his part, Bush penned an op-Ed in the Des Moines Register suggesting that rival Donald Trump is a “celebrity entertainer” and blasting the GOP senators in the races as ineffective.
Bush polled a distant third in the latest NBC News/Marist poll in Iowa behind rivals Trump and Ben Carson. And he's running only one point ahead of Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul, who were tied for fourth in the latest survey.
“It's a long haul. What happens in October is completely irrelevant,” Bush told CBS News Wednesday. “Ask me how it is going in January and I will tell you it is going pretty good.”
Even though the governor says he’s not patient, his campaign has laid out a long-term strategy that seems in no rush to crystallize voter’s opinions, favoring instead more of a prolonged introduction.
“My strategy is to share my record,” he said. “Most people don’t know that Florida had this high growth strategy – 4.4% growth per year – in my eight years.”
Part of that strategy seems to hinge on the performance of advertisements that both his campaign and the super PAC supporting his run have started to air. In fact, money spent on television ads supporting Bush’s candidacy outnumbers all of the other candidates, according to NBC ad-monitoring partner SMG Delta.
“It seems to work,” Bush said of advertising. “I’ve asked a few car dealers.”
In addition to the ads, the candidate told Iowa voters to expect policy rollouts on entitlements and health care reform in the weeks to come.