The Duel, the Donald, the Debate

Viewers who watched Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate hoping to see a fiery duel between the two front-runners, Ben Carson and Donald Trump, were disappointed. Instead, the pivotal clash was between two Florida politicians, former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — and Bush lost.

The debate had been widely regarded as a make-or-break moment for Mr. Bush, an establishment favorite whose campaign has struggled against “outsider” candidates such as Mr. Trump. But it was Sen. Rubio who stole the show.

Mr. Bush’s troubles began early. He tried to pick a fight with Sen. Rubio over the latter’s lagging voting record in the Senate. He tried sarcasm: “What is it, like, a French work week?” He tried confrontation: “Just resign and let someone else take the job.”

Jeb, alas, doesn’t do sarcasm and confrontation very well.

The senator shot back that Mr. Bush hadn’t complained about the voting records of past candidates. “The only reason why you’re doing it now,” he said, “is because we’re running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”

From that moment on, Sen. Rubio was the most agile performer on the debate stage. He drew applause when he said the Democratic Party’s biggest super PAC was the media. He was eloquent when he spoke of his family and even got a laugh: “I’m against anything that’s bad for my mother.”

To be fair, Marco Rubio wasn’t always this fast on his feet. When he visited the Northwest Florida Daily News’ editorial board in 2009, he flubbed a number of questions. He has become a more polished politician since then.

Jeb Bush hasn’t. He offered little other than “Me, too”-isms as the debate progressed.

It’s hard to know if Wednesday was really Jeb’s make-or-break moment. In this year of Trump, everyone seems to be enjoying second and third chances.

But Jeb is running out of time, out of eager donors, and out of chances to turn his campaign around.

Reprinted from the Northwest Florida Daily News

Distributed by Creators.com

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