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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pasco's Bill Bunting wants Jeb Bush to get on the Trump Train

Pasco County GOP insider Bill Bunting reflects on Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

Alex Leary | Times

Pasco County GOP insider Bill Bunting reflects on Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

PORT RICHEY — Pasco County state GOP committeeman Bill Bunting wants Jeb Bush to suck it up.

"Jeb was treated in a nasty way," Bunting said of Bush's tormentor, Donald Trump. "Jeb is a perfect gentleman. But he's got to put it aside. He's always told us 'We've got to have party loyalty,' and we've always listened."

Bush is among the Republicans who say they will never vote for Trump (or Hillary Clinton, in Bush's case) but Bunting says the stakes are too high. "How can you have reservations when you are going to have so many justices up for the Supreme Court?"

"I do think Trump is going to win Florida," Bunting said over coffee at Books-A-Million. "We need Jeb to come on board and we need Marco to make a pitch for him down there in Miami."

Bunting is doing his part — trying to line up appearances by Trump at gun shows in Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tampa. Bunting is also working with the county GOP to create billboards hitting Clinton over Benghazi.

"Four American heroes died and Hillary lied," the signs will read, complete with photos of the victims. "She said, 'What difference does it make?'"

A player in Rubio's 2010 rise to national prominence — Bunting held the first straw poll showing Rubio creaming Charlie Crist — he was stunned as anyone to see Rubio frustrated with Trump to the point he made crass "small hands" jokes.

"You have a lot of Christians here that like Marco very much and when they heard that, they got turned off. They weren't going to run out and vote for Trump but they were going to sit on their hands."

He added: "Marco should have been more in touch with the people that got him there. He's good one-on-one. He motivates people. You don't leave that up to staffers. You pick up the phone yourself. When he was in office the first two years, he would call every time. Then I guess he got busy in Washington."

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 18, 2016 10:09am]

    

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