First on CNN: New video reveals Bush 'moments'

Republican presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks to the media after holding a town hall style meeting at La Progresiva Presbyterian School on September 1, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Story highlights

  • The campaign wants to show Bush candidly interacting with voters
  • Aides believe that Bush will do better in the polls if voters get to know him

(CNN)Jeb Bush is a hugger.

When a man in a hotel lobby last month told Bush that he might win his vote, the Republican presidential candidate gleefully rushed over to the voter for a big embrace.
It's one of several candid moments seen in a new 11-minute video released by his campaign Friday that aims to give a behind-the-scenes look at a man who most voters know only through TV interviews, debates and 30-second campaign ads.
    The focus of the video is a November swing across Florida, South Carolina and New Hampshire that was seen as a campaign reset amid lagging poll numbers and came after a devastating debate performance the week before.
    But it's also an expanded attempt at a tactic employed by the campaign since this summer, which is to show an authentic and spontaneous side of Bush that often gets lost in the controlled narratives of presidential politics.
    From the start of his White House bid in June, Bush's team has been diligent in capturing raw moments that show what they see as his wit and charm, and posting them online in a series branded as "#JebNoFilter," a play off of the Instagram hash tag used for unedited photos or video.
    Since entering the race, Bush has faced scrutiny over his on-camera persona from the likes of Donald Trump, who's defined him as "low energy," and some pundits who say Bush appears stilted and awkward at times, especially in formal settings like on a stage or in front of a teleprompter.
    Bush, a self-described introvert, is more at ease in casual and intimate settings, such as town halls and meet-and-greets. And it's those encounters that the new video and the "#JebNoFilter" series are designed to showcase.
    "My take is if everyone in America got a chance to shake his hand and interact with him for two minutes, he'd win everything with a landslide," said Erin Gaetz, director of digital content for the campaign. "This is not a one-dimensional guy."
    The "#JebNoFilter" idea started after Bush's first night on the trail back in June. A disheveled Bush with uncombed hair had just landed in New Hampshire, and suddenly turned to the camera to explain his "sloppy" appearance, noting that he had been "totally drenched in sweat" from the Miami heat earlier in the day.
    "We would get the footage back, comb through it, and notice these little moments," she said.
    In the weeks that followed, his YouTube page would be populated with clips of Bush talking to the camera about discovering "Sharknado," disclosing the worst father's day gift he ever got (a weight loss book), and trying on a super-tight hoodie he was given by a Silicon Valley company called Thumbtack.
    "Eat your heart out Zuckerburg," he says, wearing the hoodie.
    A recent clip shows Bush gawking over his grandchildren during the family Christmas photo, while another behind-the-scenes video shows a high-energy mash-up of his interactions with college students during his visits to SEC tailgates this fall.
    The campaign decided early on to have a full-time traveling photographer to capture video of Bush on the campaign trail. He's regularly followed by Rupert Manderstam or Dain Valverde, who rotate on and off the trail.
    But not every candid moment makes it online. When Bush was in New Hampshire earlier this year, an elderly woman pinched the governor's backside at a private event, making for a hilarious encounter. While a camera was present, the footage never appeared online.
    The new 11-minute video is more heavily edited and narrative-driven than the "#JebNoFilter" series but aims for a similar objective — showing a side of the candidate that's not often seen in the news media.
    He's seen cheating on his paleo diet and talking to reporters in his campaign bus about advice he tries to rebuff so he can be true to himself — a big theme of the video. At one point, he becomes jokingly defiant with his communications director, Tim Miller, about wearing an olive suit that he likes, despite Miller's stylistic objections.
    In another scene, a voter asks Bush if he can ask one more question. "Yeah, what the hell? Heck, I mean," Bush says to laughs.
    Eric Fehrnstrom, a top aide to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid, said every campaign "fantasizes" about setting up their own news bureau and providing images and words that bypass the traditional news media.
    "The language of politics these days is a visual language," he said, calling Bush's strategy to show behind-the-scenes footage "smart."
    "You can never completely avoid the media -- they are a fact of life -- but to the extent that you can give the public a peak at the candidate unfiltered, that's a good thing."
    But the videos can't be "so raw that it will be damaging," Fehrnstrom said. He pointed to moments from Romney's campaign that were captured on camera but not released until the premier of the post-election Netflix documentary "Mitt," like when he admits some of his flaws on the trail and laments about how the public sees him as a flip-flopper. Though real and genuine, they could have hurt him during the election.
    "There needs to be eyeballs on the videos to make sure that what is being sent out is genuine enough to be interesting but not so raw that it will be damaging," he said.
    Indeed, the new video is not entirely comprised of never-before-seen footage. It weaves in clips from Bush's public speeches and footage from the news media, giving an almost documentary-like feel.
    Despite being described by the media as a campaign revival tour, Bush's polling numbers continued to drop after the November swing that's featured in the video.
    But it's being released at a time when Bush is hoping to again be on the verge of a bounce-back.
    He won praise for his debate performance earlier this week in Las Vegas, a much-needed moment to sustain his campaign a little less than two months before voters in Iowa and New Hampshire start making their 2016 picks.
    He's preparing for an intense six weeks of campaigning in New Hampshire, where his aides say his interactions with voters and ground game organization give them confidence that he'll place high or win the first-in-the-nation primary on February 9.
    It may take just him a few more hugs to get there.