The pressure's on Jeb Bush before Wednesday's debate

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'Blah, Blah, Blah,' Jeb Bush Responds to Campaign Cuts

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Pressure's On: No one needs a stronger debate performance than Jeb

We can't emphasize enough how important Wednesday's debate and the next couple of weeks are for Jeb Bush's struggling campaign. Consider:

  • Jeb's Super PAC, Right to Rise, has advertised more than any other 2016 entity, but that hasn't moved the poll numbers in the early states;
  • The campaign, as we reported last week, has begun to cut salaries and staff - a telltale sign the political buzzards are circling over a candidate's head;
  • And Jeb's father, former President George H.W. Bush, has become anxious and even incredulous at Donald Trump's impact on the race, as the New York Times noted.
See Bush with his family through the years:
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Jeb and George Bush through the years
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The pressure's on Jeb Bush before Wednesday's debate
** FILE ** President George W. Bush, center, walks off the 18th hole with his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, and father, former President George Bush, left, at the Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport, Maine, in this July 7, 2001 file picture. Could there be a third President Bush? The current chief said Wednesday May 10, 2006 that younger brother Jeb would make a great one, too, and has asked him about making a run. The first President Bush likes the idea as well. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
President Bush, center, with former President George H.W. Bush, left, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, walk together after participating in the christening ceremony of the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush in Newport News, Va., Saturday, Oct. 7, 2006. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, listens as former President George H. W. Bush offers condolences to the Ford family during a news conference in remembrance of former President Gerald R. Ford at the Gasparilla Inn in Boca Grande, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2006. (AP Photo/Armando Solares)
President Bush waves to the crowd with his wife, Laura, and brother Jeb Bush on Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, in Pensacola, Fla., where Bush was drumming up support for local Republican candidates. (AP Photo/Mari Darr~Welch)
President Bush, left, stands on stage with his brother Gov. Jeb Bush, right, at a campaign rally at Pensacola Civic Center, Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. in Pensacola, Fla. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Bush, left, spends a moment with his brother and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, prior to the President's speech on Social Security at the Pensacola Junior College, Friday, March 18, 2005, in Pensacola, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)
President George Bush chats with brother Gov. Jeb Bush as they acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Texas Gov. George W. Bush, right, gestures as his brother Florida's governor-elect Jeb Bush looks on during a joint news conference in New Orleans Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1998. The Bush brothers are attending the Republican Governors Association meeting which runs through Friday. A flood of media requests to interview the Texas governor and the Florida governor-elect prompted the sons of former President Bush to schedule a news conference Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, hugs his brother, President Bush, left, after introducing him at a campaign rally at Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, Fla., Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Bush jokes with his brother Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, in Pensacola, Fla., where Bush was drumming up support for local Republican candidates. (AP Photo/Mari Darr~Welch)
Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush, center, is joined by his sons, former U.S. President George W. Bush, left, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as he speaks to reporters after his parachute jump with the Army Golden Knights parachute team to celebrate his 85th birthday, Friday, June 12, 2009, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
President Bush greets his brother,former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, and Jeb's son, George P. Bush, left, as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, March 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
President George H. W. Bush, left, with his son former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, enters the West Wing of the White House to meet with President Barack Obama Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President George W. Bush, left, smiles while being introduced by his brother Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, at the Florida Victory 2004 rally on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
This photo taken Feb. 15, 2011, show former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush greeting his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, at the White House's 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in Washington, where her husband, former President George H.W. Bush is to receive the Medal. Jeb Bush has already heard his mother, Barbara, tell everyone “we’ve had enough Bushes” in the White House. In the lead-up to 2016 presidential campaign, the former Florida governor says he’s in his 60s and doesn’t have to do everything his mom says. “I'm trying to avoid the family conversation,” he said. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
 In this Oct. 22, 2002, file photo former first lady Barbara Bush makes a point as she campaigns for her son, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. Amid the celebration surrounding the opening of son George W. Bush's presidential library, Barbara Bush is brushing aside talk of her son Jeb running for president in 2016. When asked how she felt about it she told NBC's "Today" show, Thursday, April 25, 2013, "We've had enough Bushes." (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, reaches out to grab his brother President George W. Bush before a speech Friday morning March 8, 2002 at America II Electronics in St. Petersburg, Fla. In the his remarks, Bush said he does not know whether Osama bin Laden is dead or alive but cautioned Americans against judging the success of the war on the fate of the terrorist mastermind. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Former first lady Barbara Bush laughs with her son, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, during a campaign stop in Ellenton, Fla., Monday, Oct. 30, 2000. The two were campaigning for another of her sons, Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. George W. Bush. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. George W. Bush jokes with his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, during a bus ride to a rally at Florida International University in Miami, Fla., Sunday, Nov. 5, 2000. At left is New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. (AP Photo/Eric Draper)
Texas Republican Gov. George W. Bush, right, and Florida's Governor-elect, Jeb Bush, answer questions at a news conference in New Orleans Wednesday Nov. 18, 1998. A flood of media requests to interview the Texas governor and the Florida governor-elect prompted the sons of former President Bush to schedule a news conference. The governors are attending the Republican Governors Association. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Florida Gov.-elect Jeb Bush, left, laughs during a joint news conference in New Orleans Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1998, with his brother Texas Gov. George W. Bush. The Bush brothers are attending the Republican Governors Association meeting which runs through Friday. A flood of media requests to interview the Texas governor and the Florida governor-elect prompted the sons of former President Bush to schedule a joint news conference. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Former President George Bush, right, clenches his fist Sept.16, 1994 as he hugs son, Jeb during a Florida GOP fund-raiser in Tampa. After a hiatus, Bush has been hitting the campaign trail and lecture circuit with a vengence, raising millions for Republican candidates and getting digs in at President Bill Clinton along the way. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Former President George H. W. Bush, right, and son Jeb Bush chat with recruits at the Pinellas County jail's boot camp in St. Petersburg. FL., March 28, 1994. Jeb Bush, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, was on a campaign swing with his father. (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)
Cheerleaders shout their encouragement as Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeb Bush and former President George Bush applauds Barbara Bush, center, during her address to a rally on Oct. 10, 1994 at Church Street Station in Orlando, Florida. Jeb Bush is running for governor against incumbent Democrat Gov. Lawton Chiles. (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove)
President George H. W. Bush talks with his son Jeb, during a round of golf at the Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport ME., Aug. 27, 1990. The president is scheduled to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney Monday, at his Walker's Point home. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (R) reaches out to shake hands with his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (L) shortly after Air Force One arrived at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, 09 May 2006. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (L) looks on as his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks 19 April, 2006. Governor Bush was among several governors who met with the president after an Easter trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George Bush (left) and brother Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 19: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) smile while greeting supporters during a campaign rally at Progress Energy Park October 19, 2004 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Recent polls indicate Bush is maintaining a slight lead over his Democratic challenger U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Jeb Bush is seen at Salt Lake City Airport on January 22, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by JOCE/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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Asked on Saturday if his campaign is falling apart, Bush responded, per NBC's Jordan Frasier: "Blah, blah, blah, blah... October is not when you elect people; it's February. And then you move into March, and we have a campaign that is designed to win. And I'm going to win." He's right:. But we're now less than 100 days until Iowa, and the clock is ticking if he can turn things around and become John McCain of 2008 (who won the nomination after a near-death political experience) instead of John Connally of 1980 (who had so much money at his disposal but never, ever caught fire).

Trump vs. Carson

While our eyes are fixed on Jeb over the next 72 hours, the biggest fireworks on the Republican side have been between Trump and Ben Carson, the top-polling GOP presidential candidates. During a rally in Florida on Saturday, Trump alluded to Carson's religion, saying that "I just don't know about" the retired neurosurgeon's Seventh-day Adventist faith. (His own Presbyterianism, Trump added, is "down the middle of the road.") Trump says he sees no reason to apologize for the comment. And as Carson rises in polls in Iowa, Trump is also reupping his famous attack of Jeb Bush, calling his newest rival "super low energy." Also on a TODAY Show town hall this morning, he called Carson "weak" on immigration (along with Bush and Rubio), and he dismissed recent Iowa polling showing a Carson surge as inaccurate. On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Carson replied, "I have plenty of energy. But, you know, I am soft-spoken. I do have a tendency to be relaxed. I wasn't always like that... As a teenager. I would go after people with rocks, and bricks, and baseball bats, and hammers. And, of course, many people know the story when I was 14 and I tried to stab someone." To quote "Anchorman," that sure escalated quickly...

Carson: "I would love to see [Roe v. Wade] overturned"

Also on "Meet," Carson was asked about his views on abortion, and he compared the practice to slavery. "Think about this: During slavery-- and I know that's one of those words you're not supposed to say, but I'm saying it. During slavery, a lot of the slave owners thought that they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave. Anything that they chose to do. And, you know, what if the abolitionist had said, you know, "I don't believe in slavery. I think it's wrong. But you guys do whatever you want to do?" Where would we be?" When he was pressed on whether Roe v. Wade should be overturned, Carson answered, "Ultimately, I would love to see it overturned."

Working for the weekend

The Washington Post reaches this conclusion about Marco Rubio's time on Capitol Hill: He really, really does not like being in the Senate. A longtime friend tells the paper "He hates it," and Rubio himself concedes "I'm frustrated." The piece comes after Rubio defended skipping Senate work in an interview Sunday, telling CNN "I'm not missing votes because I'm on vacation." Team Rubio tells NBC's Hallie Jackson ""It's no secret that he's been very frustrated with the lack of action in Washington over the last five years. It's why he's running for president!" The worst part of this story here for Rubio: It underscores foes' implication that Rubio, like onetime Sen. Barack Obama, is too ambitious and impatient to build the resume necessary for the White House. (Remember, Obama had a similar reputation for rolling his eyes at the pace of Capitol Hill.) On the plus side for the Florida senator, GOP voters certainly aren't rewarding legislative experience right now, and perhaps the dirtiest words in politics at the moment are "career politician." The question is: Do voters punish him if they think he's not doing a job he's elected to do, or do they give him a pass because he's upset with the same institution that's fueling their anger at Washington?

Biden explains his big decision

It appears thatJoe Biden reached the same conclusion as many political observers who calculated how the odds were stacked against his success in a 2016 run: It was just too late for him to get in it and win it. "If I thought we could've put together the campaign that our supporters deserve and our contributors deserved, I would have gone ahead and done it," Biden said in an interview on "60 Minutes." The vice president described emotional moments with his 11 year-old granddaughter as she dealt with the death of her father, Beau, and said that the family's healing process simply took too long to make a 2016 run feasible. (As we pointed out before his decision last week, Biden would have started the race in third place and $60 million in the hole compared to the cash on hand banked by Sanders and Clinton.) Also from the interview: Biden denied that his remark about Republicans not being his "enemy" was aimed at Hillary Clinton, insisting that he and the former secretary of state are friendly. ""The only reason to run is because I still think I could do a better job than anybody else could do," he said. "That's the reason to run. I wouldn't run against Hillary."

See Bush on the campaign trail:

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Jeb Bush on the campaign trail
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The pressure's on Jeb Bush before Wednesday's debate
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting at The Music Man Square, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Mason City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting at The Music Man Square, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Mason City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
GREENVILLE, SC - SEPTEMBER 18: Former Florida Governor and republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to voters at the Heritage Action Presidential Candidate Forum September 18, 2015 in Greenville, South Carolina. Eleven republican candidates each had twenty five minutes to talk to voters Friday at the Bons Secours Wellness arena in the upstate of South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks to a crowd of football fans during a tailgate party before an NCAA college football game between Georgia and South Carolina Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Athens., Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
FILE - In this Sept. 3, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks to employees at Foss Manufacturing during campaign stop in Hampton. N.H. Bush wanted to run for president as a joyful front-runner, above the fray of the pack. Instead, he heads into the fall campaign as a fighter with a foil: Donald Trump. "I believe that a conservative can win, campaigning with his arms wide open, with joy in his heart, speaking about the hopes and aspirations of the people, being on the side of the people that right now donât see their lives in the future being better than what they have today," Bush said in New Hampshire late last week. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 15: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waves on stage as he announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination during an event at Miami-Dade College - Kendall Campus on June 15 , 2015 in Miami, Florida. Bush joins a list of Republican candidates to announce their plans on running against the Democrats for the White House. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, poses for a selfie with a student during a town hall at La Progresiva Presbyterian School, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 01: Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall style meeting at La Progresiva Presbyterian School on September 1, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Jeb continues to campaign for the Republican nomination. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, right, talks with students in a third grade class as teacher Judy Elder, left, looks on before a town hall at La Progresiva Presbyterian School, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaks at the Defending the American Dream summit hosted by Americans for Prosperity, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 14: Republican presidential hopeful and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (C) talks with members of the media as U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (L) (R-IA) and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R) (R-IA) look on during the Iowa State Fair on August 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, throws a baseball on the midway during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
FILE - In this Aug. 14, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, talks with Dana Wanken, right, as he works the grill in the Iowa Pork Producers tent during a visit to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. Scott Walker is counting steps on his FitBit. Bush swears by a paleo diet. Bobby Jindal is a self-proclaimed "gym rat." With long travel days and a fresh slab of cherry pie never far away, the campaign trail is a notoriously unhealthy place to live. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 14: Republican presidential hopeful and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad eat a pork chop on a stick at the Iowa Pork Tent during the Iowa State Fair on August 14, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. Presidential candidates are addressing attendees at the Iowa State Fair on the Des Moines Register Presidential Soapbox stage. The State Fair runs through August 23. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, holds up two lobsters during a campaign stop at Brown's Lobster Pound in Seabrook, N.H., Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. At right is owner Bruce Brown. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Republican presidential candidates from left, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Ben Carson talk during a break during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush addresses guests during a town hall style gathering in Gorham, N.H., Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the Maverick PAC conference Friday, July 17, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AMHERST, NH - JULY 4: Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush greets supporters at the 4th of July Parade on July 4, 2015 in Amherst, New Hampshire. Bush is a front-runner in the polls for the 2016 presidential race with 14 other republican candidates. (Photo by Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, left, has a selfie taken with a supporter while participating in the Fourth of July Parade festivities in Amherst, N.H.,,Saturday, July 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signs autographs from the window of a food truck after he formally announced that he would join the race for president with a speech at Miami Dade College, Monday, June 15, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits backstage as he is introduced before speaking at the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waves to the crowd as he formally joins the race for president with a speech at Miami Dade College, Monday, June 15, 2015, in Miami. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, speaks at the Florida State University Conference Center in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, July 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
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Sanders on offense in Iowa

While Biden tried to take some heat off of Clinton over the weekend, don't miss Bernie Sanders' big slam of the Democratic frontrunner from Saturday night.. Sanders unleashed his most direct criticism of Clinton yet at Saturday's Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Iowa, mentioning her positions on trade policy, the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Iraq War. And then there was this focus on her support for the Defense of Marriage Act: "Today, some are trying to rewrite history by saying they voted for one anti-gay law to stop something worse," Sanders said. "Let us be clear. That's just not true. There was a small minority opposed to discriminating against our gay brothers and sisters. Not everybody held that position in 1996," Sanders said. More: "I will not abandon any segment of society, black or white gay or straight, just because it is expedient at a given time." As the Des Moines Register writes, the dinner will be remembered as the moment that Sanders sharpened the knives.

Vitter heads to runoff in LA-GOV

He's still plagued by that 2007 prostitution scandal, but gubernatorial hopeful Sen. David Vitter lives to fight another day. From the AP: "Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter survived challenges Saturday from two GOP rivals who called his years-old prostitution scandal a stain on Louisiana, reaching a runoff against Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards in the governor's race. The Nov. 21 runoff will decide who follows Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Bobby Jindal into office, the winner inheriting leadership of a state mired in financial problems that both candidates blame on the term-limited governor."

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