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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Jeb Bush misses Tim Russert



Until this year, by far the two highest profile debates Jeb Bush participated in were the one in 1994 when the late Lawton Chiles left Bush flummoxed by declaring, "The old he-coon walks just before the light of day," and one in 2002 when the late Bill McBride was left flummoxed when pressed to give a cost estimate for a class size reduction mandate he supported. The moderator in both those memorable debates was the late Tim Russert, and Bush thought of him last night when talking about his weak performances in the presidential debates so far.

"Russert wouldn't let you up air if you tried to do anything like what's going on here," he said, while chatting with several reporters on his campaign bus. "You remember that last debate where could not answer one question? He kept bobbing and weaving. Russert just destroyed him."

Bush has a plan for how to approach next week's televised debate: "Not spending a lot of time preparing answers to questions. It's more 'What do you want to say, how do you want to say it?'

Rather than treat these like actual debates, he said, "I've got to train myself to say what's on my mind rather than what the question is."

"In our debate prep last time I don't think any question that we prepared for was a question that was asked, because they didn't do anything they said they were going to do," he said of CNBC, noting that he felt "really good" going into that debate.

"I wasn't nervous at all. I got shouted down when I tried to interrupt in the beginning, then I couldn't finish the sentence in the Marco deal, and then I never got asked a question that was relevant. It was just kind of an off night."

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 4, 2015 2:48pm]


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