Littwin: Poor Jeb
November 5, 2015
When they write the 2016 campaign books, the Poor Jeb chapter will inevitably be set in Boulder, the site of the third GOP debate. This was where he was supposed to rescue his presidential run. It was where he would come out swinging and, with any luck, knock out that ungrateful twerp, Marco Rubio, his former mentee now trying to ruin his life. Or was it the Donald who was ruining his life?
It was one or the other, or maybe both. But Jeb had already tried to unload on Trump, and that hadn't worked out so well. Jeb has admitted he can't fake outrage very well, which is an essential talent for anyone considering a run in a GOP presidential primary. The Donald, meanwhile, majored in outrage of all descriptions. It would be a mismatch every time.
So Jeb would go after Rubio, who owed him, and tie up the establishment vote – such as it is – and reestablish himself as the inevitable candidate once the Donald and the Ben fade away or, better yet, just disappear.
He needed something. His campaign was a disaster, his poll numbers tanking, his money running low, his donors running scared. And to make matters worse, he had embarrassed himself over the weekend at a retreat by whining about how he had cooler things to do than run for president and that if people didn't like it, they should just vote for the Donald. Not cool.
And so he needed a good debate. He would find his swagger. He would work on his sneer. When he and Rubio met on the stage, they would barely look at each other. They wouldn't shake hands. It was the intra-Florida showdown playing out half a continent away.
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