Judging from audience reaction, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush handled himself admirably Friday during his 20-minute question-and-answer session with Fox News host Sean Hannity at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.
But the whole affair had the whiff of illusion designed to buttress Bush’s image.
Bush supporters were bused all the way from Washington, D.C.’s K Street, according to emails obtained by the far-left Slate website, which said the effort appeared to have been choreographed by former George W. Bush advance man, Fritz Brogan.
It likely was developed in anticipation of Bush running into negative crowd reactions — which he did when tea party supporters staged a raucous walkout when he took the stage.
“We strongly recommend arriving as early as possible to get a seat,” Brogan wrote in an email to supporters. “Our ‘Early Rise’ team will be there at 7:30am onward helping reserve seats- if you want to join the early team, let me know.”
And it all seemed to work. The supporters arrived wearing “Jeb!” stickers, patiently waiting while their candidate was bumped to a later time slot, according to Breitbart News.
Bush even offered encouragement during the wait by tweeting:
Backstage here at #CPAC2015, just waiting for Phil Robertson to wrap up! pic.twitter.com/PSIt86QcZy
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 27, 2015
But Breitbart noted that the staging didn’t come off exactly as planned. It reported:
By the time Bush took the stage with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the Bush fans were wildly enthusiastic.
The Bush support crew cheered loudly during the interview-style event, which might have worked well for a speech, but it had the opposite effect as Bush tried to answer some of Hannity’s challenges to his conservative credentials.
Supporters cheered any mention of immigration reform, even Bush’s insistence on a path to legal status. That drew boos in the rest of the crowd, which were quickly silenced by supporters cheering and applauding.
Bush didn’t ignore the boos — he just pretended they were something else.
“Well, first of all, for those who made a ‘ooooh’ sound, was that what it was?” he asked from the podium. “I’m marking them down as neutral, and I want to be your second
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