Longtime Republican political strategist Mike Murphy, who ran the pro-Jeb Bush “Right to Rise” Super PAC, is defending his strategy and striking back against critics who claim his group didn’t do enough to go after Donald Trump earlier in the race.
Murphy tells Bloomberg’s Masters in Politics podcast that it was really the other campaigns who “were late converts” to challenging Trump and his record. “Jeb jokes that they were all in witness relocation when he was on the stage trying to take on Trump,” Murphy says.
Defending the decision to not unleash more of the $100 million the Super PAC raised against Trump, Murphy points out that such a line of attack would have only served to help Bush’s other opponents.
“We did polling and we saw the most voters who were for Trump were definitely against Jeb. They saw him as too much of an establishment guy and not angry enough,” Murphy argues. “So by attacking Trump early we would have done a great service to Ted Cruz and maybe to a lesser extent Marco Rubio.”
Ultimately, Murphy admits that while “Jeb worked really hard and ran a classy campaign, “ his “kind of reform conservatism and optimistic campaign was just not what the primary voters were looking for this year.”
Murphy – who also works as a Hollywood screenwriter and is a frequent guest on TV news programs – faults the news media for bestowing what he describes as an excessive and irresponsible amount of attention on the reality TV star turned presidential front-runner.
“On television it’s a ratings war and Trump is a carnival, and carnivals get ratings,” he says. “If Trump started doing human sacrifices they’d probably think, ‘How many cameras to bring?’
“And so we’ve cheapened the coverage tremendously and when we look back there will be some soul searching in the media about, ‘Wow, we’ve found a three-legged dancing mule and we’ve stuck it on TV to make money selling sugar to kids and did we give the country the presidential debate it deserves?’ and that will be their question to ask themselves.”
Despite Trump’s success on Tuesday, Murphy says he is “not on the media bandwagon that the Trump thing is a done deal.” While admitting that Trump clearly has an advantage, Murphy doesn’t believe he’ll be able to arrive at the convention with a majority of delegates.
Nevertheless, Murphy, who claims his days as a full-time political professional are over, is still trying to do his part, even from the sidelines, to ensure that Trump is not the Republican nominee.
“I’ve been in touch with my friends in the anti-Trump operation, they called me up and asked me to chip in some ideas- I’ve done that,” he reveals. “I am happy to be a volunteer in that effort because I think stopping Trump is so important for, frankly, the country, not just our party.”
Still up for debate for some anti-Trump voters is which Trump alternative to get behind.
As Murphy notes: There is kind of a dilemma for everybody observing the race: the candidate with the strongest delegate power to oppose Trump is Cruz yet the candidate who is by far the strongest to have a reform conservative agenda and win a general election to beat Hillary Clinton is Kasich.”
You can listen to the latest episode of Masters in Politics here.