© Greg Nash
Jeb Bush's campaign is pulling money out of TV advertising in Iowa and South Carolina, leaving the heavy lifting up to its super-PAC.
The news, first reported by The Des Moines Register, raised speculation that the former Florida governor would effectively give up on Iowa, where he's currently fifth according to the latest RealClearPolitics average.
But Bush's campaign pushed back on that notion, telling The Hill that it was focused on building an unmatched get-out-the-vote operation.
The campaign is moving several dozen staff from Miami headquarters to the early-voting states in January.
“The campaign is building the best national ground game and infrastructure in the field, one that will allow us to be successful in the long run doing what serious, national campaigns must do to be competitive in the primary and general elections," said Bush spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger.
The Bush campaign will pull around $1 million of previously reserved TV advertising in Iowa and will withdraw around $2 million in TV ads from South Carolina but will remain on TV in New Hampshire, where Team Bush is throwing most of its weight.
The campaign believes that the pro-Bush super-PAC Right to Rise has already booked enough TV advertising to allow the campaign to focus its resources on reaching more voters through personal contact.
In Iowa, the Bush campaign is increasing its staff of 11 to more than 20 in January. As part of this ground force deployment, the Bush campaign will send approximately 60 extra staffers to its early states. In New Hampshire — which Bush sees as his best hope — there will be more than 40 paid staff, according to the campaign.
Right to Rise has booked roughly $20 million in advertising through the caucuses and primaries across the first three states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The super-PAC buy, which includes $11 million in New Hampshire and $3.9 million in Iowa, reflects the campaign's emphasis on the more moderate Granite State.
"Today, given the fluid race and the spending decisions by outside groups, we are making strategic adjustments with our resources to ensure we are in the most competitive position possible," Brandenburger said via email. "We are excited about the massive Jeb army that will be spreading his message to voters on the ground in the February states and beyond.”
Bush has struggled to make an impression in Iowa and is well behind the leader, Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSchumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks Bipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy GOP senators seek to block dishonorable discharges for unvaccinated troops MORE.
Cruz has captivated the most important voting bloc in the Feb. 1 caucus state — evangelicals — and recently pulled clear of billionaire Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE, who is running second in Iowa but maintaining his lead nationally.
There are questions about the strength of Trump's get out the vote operation, particularly in the early caucuses states, where the Bush campaign is determined to out-perform the national front-runner.