WASHINGTON -- A long-time adviser to Jeb Bush said Saturday that the former Florida governor did not show his recently released book on immigration to her or, as far as she knows, to anyone else in his informal circle of counselors.
Sally Bradshaw, a confidante of Bush's, said the lack of vetting that Bush gave his own book – which he co-wrote with conservative attorney Clint Bolick – is clear evidence that he didn't intend to use the book's release as a rollout for a potential presidential run in 2016. This should be to his credit, she said.
"I didn't see the book until Saturday. I don't know anyone who was part of his original political team … who saw the book until this past weekend," Bradshaw said in a phone interview. "I knew he was writing the book. Others did. He just kind of went and did it."
A source close to Bush said that there is "no formal team plotting a path to the presidency." But there are political strategists who talk informally with Bush and might have been asked for input, such as Mike Murphy. They also did not see the book early, the source said.
Bush's media schedule also went out last weekend in an e-mail to alumni of his gubernatorial administration, the Bush source said. The source could not say whether planned appearances on all five Sunday shows was part of the original plan or not.
But Bush spokeswoman Jaryn Emhof said in an email, "Sunday shows were part of the original media plan the publishers proposed."
Media coverage of the book focused immediately on Bush's position that undocumented immigrants should not be able to pursue a path to citizenship, but rather a path to residency. After a backlash in the press portrayed Bush as to the right of the current bipartisan plan in the Senate, he backtracked and said that he did not oppose a path to citizenship. There were whispers among advisers to other potential 2016 Republican candidates that Bush had, in the span of a day or two, badly damaged his brand.
But Bush told the Miami Herald in an interview published Saturday that he was not worried about the media fracas.
“There’s a lot of hair on fire right now. Mine isn’t," he said.
Bradshaw argued that Bush's lack of guile was the sign of a self-confident, independent politician who is more concerned with substance than style.
Bush acknowledged to the Herald that he erred in not anticipating and understanding the hyper-political lens through which his book would be viewed. But his comments to the Herald had a tinge of disdain for the current political climate, and Bradshaw sought to portray Bush's rollout of his book as the action of a high-minded, policy-focused leadership style that pays little heed to the rules of the game in Washington and in the political press.
"Everybody can try to impose this on him," she said, referring to the cascade of news coverage. "Maybe I'm wrong to think it doesn't matter. But I'm just telling you in his world it doesn't matter."
She paused: "My guess is it doesn't matter."
Florida Republican political consultant Rick Wilson said he thought Jeb's week was not "fatal," but that it was "cautionary."
Wilson said that Bush's media approach to the week was "a very old-fashioned, Washington press corps feel to it: 'Now I'm going to sit down with big foot reporter x.' There wasn't a big social media component to it where he could win over some advocates who would then go out and make the case for you."
"I would have sat down with Erick Erickson at Red State, with National Review," Wilson said. "You even deal with the Daily Callers and the Free Beacons and all that stuff that's part of the right wing conservative communication channel these days."
"If he's going to step up and go to the big show here ... they will have to get good at the campaigns of 2013 rather than the campaigns of 2003," Wilson said.