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Will Jeb Bush opt not to compete in Iowa caucus?

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Jeb Bush has had his roughest week on the campaign trail, and it’s only Thursday.

The former Florida governor has been getting hammered all week by critics for his fumbling of a question regarding the Iraq war, prompting New York Times columnist Gail Collins to title her piece on Thursday, “Wow, Jeb Bush is Awful.”

Meanwhile, a 19-year-old college student in Reno got in Bush’s face on Wednesday to tell him that his brother, George W. Bush, was responsible for the creation of ISIS.

And now comes a report that Bush may not seriously compete for the Iowa caucuses next year.

Bush made news on Tuesday when he said that he would not participate in the straw poll that will take place on August 8. The straw poll has been derided by politicians and journalists for years as an absurd pay-for-play event that is completely irrelevant to the process, and certainly former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann‘s victory in 2011 certainly gives that theory credence.

But blowing off the whole state? That’s what BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins reports this morning.

Coppins writes:

According to the two Republicans who were briefed on the broad points of the campaign’s primary strategy, Bush’s political advisers believe his steadfast support for Common Core education standards and softer immigration policies will make it incredibly difficult for him to woo the conservative caucus-goers, who tend to favor more combative figures like Iowa’s 2012 victor Rick Santorum, or Mike Huckabee, who won in 2008.

“Common Core has become an anchor tied around this guy’s neck… and they realize it,” said the political consultant, who met with senior Bush advisers while he was considering joining the campaign. “I think it’s partly [media consultant Mike] Murphy telling him, ‘You need to be the iconoclast,’ and I think it’s partly just where Jeb is philosophically.”

A Bush spokesman rejects the premise outright, however.

“There is nobody with any shred of authority or proximity to Gov. Bush suggesting that, should he decide to run for president, he skip or ignore Iowa,” says spokesperson Tim Miller.

Coppins’ story contains anonymous quotes from two Republican sources, who he writes were briefed on the broad parts of the campaign’s primary strategy.

The fact of the matter is that while Bush has been in New Hampshire frequently this spring, he’s only been to Iowa twice, while also visiting places like Arizona, California and Nevada. He is scheduled to appear at the next big cattle call in the campaign this weekend, the Iowa Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner.

A recent Quinnipiac poll showed the former governor way back of the field in Iowa, in seventh place. He also topped the field of candidates whom Iowans would not vote for, with 25 percent.

Last week The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote a piece arguing that Bush should blow off Iowa. Cillizza mentioned that John McCain did that in 2000 and Hillary Clinton did as well in 2008.

Of course, neither ended up being their party’s nominee.

Cillizza finished his post by writing, “Will Jeb actually skip Iowa or even seriously contemplate it? Probably not. But he should.”

Will he?

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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