Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton? In new ads, the two attack each other

Parallel ads are once again pitting Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton against each other, suggesting that a contentious dynastic contest isn't yet out of the question.

Left: Evan Vucci/AP; Right: Charlie Neibergall/AP
At left, Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appears at a campaign rally in October in Alexandria, Va. At right, Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits on stage in Davenport, Iowa, in October.

If his newest campaign video is any indication, former Gov. Jeb Bush will come out swinging at Wednesday night's Republican debate.

At Hillary Clinton, at least. 

The Bush campaign released an unsparing video Wednesday afternoon, "Failed Agenda," attacking his strongest rival across the aisle, and portraying Mrs. Clinton as a "third-term Obama." 

At a time when Governor Bush is sliding into the single-digits in the polls amid reports that his campaign is faltering, the hard-hitting ad sends a powerful message: That Bush is the most electable general-election Republican capable of taking on the eventual Democratic nominee.

The twist: Clinton is going after Bush, too.

Her campaign has released its own web ad associating Bush with a series of provocative comments from Republicans. The parallel ads once again pit the two candidates seen as establishment favorites against each other, suggesting a contentious dynastic contest isn't yet out of the question. 

First, Bush's ad. It's a long, dramatic video that draws parallels between Clinton and President Obama, set to ominous music and images of smoke, trash, and homelessness. 

Clinton is seen giving Obama an "A," praising his executive action on immigration, and naming "the Republicans" as the enemy she is most proud of. 

The video switches tracks, queues upbeat music, and presents Bush as the (forceful, high-energy) Republican who can turn the country around. 

“I reject the pessimism of the left that thinks that we just have to become more dependent on government,“ Bush says in the video.

“Imagine a president of the United States that is willing to take on the entrenched interests to fix these complex things.... We are still the most dynamic country on the face of the Earth."

The message here is clear: Amid reports that his campaign, fundraising, and poll numbers are fading, the Bush campaign is pulling out all the stops to show their candidate still has fire in his belly. It portrays Bush as everything he's been accused of lacking: forceful, authoritative, high-energy. And it re-introduces him as an experienced, general-election-ready candidate (read: not Donald Trump or Ben Carson). 

Implicitly, it also acknowledges that Clinton, who endured months of pressure in the press and the polls over the summer, is enjoying her strongest month yet. The first Democratic presidential debate gave her a big boost, and her testimony at a Congressional hearing last week on the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, was widely praised. 

The Clinton camp is leveraging that momentum with its own campaign ads. 

In addition to a series of ads featuring working women to air during Wednesday night's GOP debate, Clinton's super PAC also launched a digital ad Tuesday that shows Bush defending his use of the term "anchor babies." It also associates him with a series of controversial comments from Republicans over the years, including Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comment, former GOP candidate Christine O'Donnell's "I am not a witch," campaign ad, and former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's suggestion that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation. 

"It's all fun and games," text on the video reads, "until they run for president." 

The message here is perhaps more surprising: Bush and his campaign may be struggling, but the Clinton camp is far from writing him off. 

In fact, a leaked Clinton campaign memo suggests it still considers Bush among its most formidable opponents. 

The memo, leaked by Clinton donors to Politico, illustrates that the Clinton team is keeping close tabs on Bush's fundraising and his ground game. It doesn't mention any other GOP rival. 

“Most Republicans are foregoing the ground game completely and instead relying on television advertising from Super PACs to buoy their campaigns,” campaign manager Robby Mook writes in the memo sent to top Clinton backers Tuesday. “As a point of comparison, with a total of 38 organizers and 8 offices, Jeb boasts the largest organization of any Republican candidate in the early states – a small fraction of the organization we’ve built."

An epic, brand-name Bush v. Clinton showdown? These two contenders are banking on it.  

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