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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush is trying, but Marco Rubio is in the way

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush participates in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on Thursday in North Charleston, S.C.

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Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush participates in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on Thursday in North Charleston, S.C.

14

January

Jeb Bush, the former heavy favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, has been the only contender willing to take on Donald Trump again and again.

“I’ve got to get this off my chest — Donald Trump is a jerk,” Bush says in a new, and particularly effective TV ad reminding New Hampshire voters how Trump had mocked the disability of a reporter. “I believe life is precious,” Bush says in the clip. “I believe life is truly a gift from God. We’re all equal under God’s watchful eye. When anybody — anybody — disparages people with disabilities, it sets me off. ”

The ad offers a glimpse of the leader many Floridians recall — principled, sincere, often passionate.

But watching Florida’s former governor, relegated to the far edge of the Fox Business Network debate stage Thursday night because of his weak poll numbers, it was clear Trump has been the least of Bush’s problems.

The real problem is Marco Rubio, who yet again easily eclipsed Bush on a debate stage. If Bush can’t beat Rubio — and polls show him trailing Rubio even in Florida — there’s no way he can take on Trump or Ted Cruz in a climate where Republicans are fed up with the party establishment and anything that smacks of status quo.

Column here.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 14, 2016 11:50pm]

    

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