When asked to pinpoint where Jeb Bush’s presidential effort began running into trouble, many confidants utter a single word: Dallas.
Mike Murphy, Bush’s political alter ego, decided early on to hold regular senior staff meetings at an unusual location: a Hyatt hotel inside a terminal at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The idea was that it was a central and relatively inexpensive gathering place for a team scattered from Los Angeles, where Murphy lives, to Miami, where the would-be candidate resides.
It went fine at first but quickly became an awkward routine. Donors and other Republicans found the setup ungainly for a campaign-in-waiting that was supposed to be based in Florida.
Older Bush hands also grew unhappy with rapid hiring by new advisers, and relationships frayed, according to Bush associates. And as the former Florida governor began to founder on the trail and in the polls, the discussions flared into arguments about how to divvy up money and resources between Bush’s allied super PAC and his official campaign.
“These things are always tug of wars,” Thomas D. Rath, a Bush family friend in New Hampshire, said of the initial sessions. “It’s almost like the first day of school, everyone trying to get to the right place and find the right seats.”