Despite trying to position himself as the anti-Trump, Jeb Bush's campaign continues to struggle badly. That fact was supposedly underscored during last night's debate when a photo purporting to be of Bush's nearly empty official Miami watch party went viral. The image was first tweeted out by Washington Post national political reporter Matea Gold.
Source sends pic of scene at Jeb Miami debate-watching party: pic.twitter.com/RsZJpEVSuq— Matea Gold (@mateagold) December 16, 2015
What's more interesting, though, is how the photo spread. It wasn't picked up much by mainstream or left-wing news sites but was rather quickly disseminated through the conservative portions of the political internet.
Breitbart, Town Hall, the Weekly Standard, IJ Review, MegynKelly.org, Free Republic, and Glenn Beck's the Blaze all picked up the tweet and used it as an excuse to bash Bush. That's pretty much a "who's who" list of influential conservative websites. It's not exactly great news for your campaign for the Republican presidential nomination when those types of sites are roasting you any chance they can get.
As it turns out, however, the picture wasn't quite what it seems.
Bush's South Florida field director, Kevin Marino Cabrera, shot back at Gold and noted that the picture was taken during the earlier undercard debate. He tweeted out these pictures of the crowd during the actual debate.
Which, OK, is a slightly less sad crowd. What's sadder still, though, is that only a handful of those conservative "news" sites bothered to update their posts on the viral pic. Gold's pic has been retweeted nearly 4,000 times. Cabrera's was retweeted just 29 times.
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It's unclear, though, exactly how crowded an event like this debate watch party is supposed to be in the first place.
The watch party wasn't at Jeb Bush's campaign headquarters (which is located in an anonymous-looking office building in the Fontainebleau neighborhood) but rather at his Miami field office located off Eighth Street in Coral Gables. We couldn't find any evidence of the Bush campaign promoting the event online, and for all we know, the event could have been intended for staffers and volunteers located at the office.
Bush's campaign is struggling — polls certainly point that out — but a random photo of a single debate watch party doesn't really tell you much about the state of his campaign.
The fact that the conservative internet media takes that photo as an excuse to bash Bush's campaign is far more telling.