Romney Is Not Rupert Murdoch’s Man but Jeb Bush Might Be, he Tells Obama’s Valerie Jarrett

Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The usually grim-faced media mogul practically swooned in his seat. Moments after Jeb Bush delivered what many in the audience described as an unremarkable talk at a conference in Washington, Rupert Murdoch turned to his seatmate, Valerie Jarrett, the White House adviser, to gush over its content and tone.

Mr. Murdoch was pleased that Mr. Bush, the former governor of Florida, had listed the economic benefits of overhauling the nation’s immigration system, confiding in Ms. Jarrett that Mr. Bush, a likely Republican presidential candidate, had said all the right things on the fraught issue, according to three people with firsthand knowledge of the conversation.

It was the kind of warm embrace, from the powerful and widely courted owner of The Wall Street Journal and Fox News Channel, that Mr. Murdoch denied Mitt Romney during his 2012 bid for the White House — and one that Mr. Murdoch is already signaling he will deprive Mr. Romney of if he runs in 2016.

In the delicate and unseen campaign underway for Mr. Murdoch’s affections in the next presidential campaign, this much is clear: Mr. Romney is out of the running, a reality that has pained and angered his allies.

Presidential politics is rife with grudges and grievances, but it is hard to recall a display of animus as unsubtle as that which Mr. Murdoch and corners of his media empire have unleashed on Mr. Romney in the past few weeks as he has tried to build support for a third presidential run.

Mr. Murdoch’s most prominent American newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, has called Mr. Romney’s last run a “calamity.” Mr. Murdoch has dismissed Mr. Romney as a “terrible candidate.” And, in a final indignity, Mr. Murdoch has heaped praise on Mr. Romney’s potential rivals, no matter how long a shot they have at the Republican nomination. (“Watch Ben Carson,” Mr. Murdoch wrote on Twitter a few days ago, labeling Mr. Carson, a conservative physician and political neophyte, a “principled brave achiever.”)

The disfavor that Mr. Murdoch has showered upon Mr. Romney could have a genuine impact on the early stages of the Republican primary, as Mr. Romney, the party’s nominee in 2012, weighs whether or not to push ahead with a campaign, a decision he is expected to make in the next few weeks.

For Mr. Romney and those around him, the memory of Mr. Murdoch’s aversion in 2012, and its expression in forums like The Journal, still stings.

“It was a concern during the campaign, one that had to be actively managed,” said Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney’s campaign in 2012.

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Source: The New York Times |