In show of financial strength, Bush campaign forms expansive finance team

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Jeb Bush on Monday formed an expansive financial support team led by about 350 major donors from across the country in a much-needed show of strength for his presidential campaign.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks about his plans for the U.S. military at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston, South Carolina November 18, 2015. REUTERS/Joshua Drake

The list of donors on his campaign’s National Finance Committee, provided to Reuters, is a who’s who of his long-time supporters from Florida, members of his famous family’s far-flung political network, and recruits from other candidates in the race.

The announcement of the team appeared aimed at reassuring jittery Bush supporters that he maintains a steady stream of funds and has the ability to fight his way out of a rough period in which his poll numbers have sagged.

The committee’s formation comes days before major donors gather in Miami on Saturday for an update from Bush campaign officials on his position in the Republican race, currently led by New York businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Bush’s team is led by Woody Johnson, owner of the NFL’s New York Jets.

It includes a variety of Republican supporters who have helped Bush in his home state of Florida, such as Republican strategist Ana Navarro and Al Cardenas, former chairman of the American Conservative Union.

It also includes a variety of backers of the Bush family over the years, such as Brad Freeman, who was a leader in George W. Bush’s finance efforts in his successful 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, and Don Evans, who was George W. Bush’s commerce secretary.

Bush’s list has some recruits from other campaigns, such as New Jersey donor Joe Kyrillos, a one-time backer of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and New York financier Anthony Scaramucci, who backed Bush when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dropped out of the 2016 race.

Once considered the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, Bush in recent months has slipped in the polls behind Trump, Carson, and a pair of senators, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

Bush’s campaign is now hoping to rebound on the assumption that Republican voters will eventually give him a second look when they seek out a more substantive candidate instead of non-politicians such as Trump and Carson.

Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Alan Crosby