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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Why Rubio kept clear of Trump and Bush attacked

16

December

Marco Rubio largely kept clear of Donald Trump during the debate and it didn’t escape a Fox News anchor this morning.

In the context of Trump’s Muslim ban she asked, “You sort of kind of touched on it and then you moved right away. Why'd you do that?”

Rubio replied: “Because it’s not a serious idea and I’m not going to spend a valuable 75 seconds on the debate stage talking about something that’s never going to happen.” He added that he had already addressed Trump's idea.

The other way of looking at it is Rubio doesn’t want to provoke Trump or, more to the point, turn off Trump’s supporters. Rubio and Ted Cruz and Chris Christie, who this morning on Laura Ingraham called Trump a “serious candidate,” are all waiting in line in the event Trump falls.

Rubio had another figure to deal with: Cruz, who has eclipsed his fellow senator in the polls and is running harder to the right. Their fight over national security and immigration is not over.

Only Jeb Bush put up a sustained effort against Trump and the former governor landed some of the debate’s memorable lines. Bush’s campaign on Wednesday was highlighting his role, the implication Bush has the guts to say what others will not and is a strong leader.

But behind that effort, is also the realization that Bush needed something to stand out. Trump was his best bet.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 12:41pm]

    

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