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Can Jeb Bush Break the Trump Spell?

By Jon Ward, Yahoo! News - September 3, 2015

A few hours before the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland in August, a Jeb Bush confidant said that it might be a good thing if the former Florida governor did badly later that evening. “I almost feel like he needs to get punched in the face,” the Bush adviser told me. This person was not unduly alarmed about the rise of Donald Trump in the polls. He remained confident in Bush’s ability to win the nomination. But he did want to see Bush show a little more fire in the belly, to stop treating the primary as a polite discussion and instead view it as an all-out brawl. If Bush were to come away the loser from a confrontation with Trump on the stage in Cleveland, the adviser said, “it may fire him up and get his juices going.” That did not happen in Cleveland. Bush looked too much like a deer in headlights to get into any scuffles with Trump, who for his part showed deference to Bush, almost as if he didn’t merit or deserve a challenge. Bush can be outstanding in a town hall setting where he can take the time he needs to lay out his arguments and deploy all the many facts and anecdotes at his disposal. But in the debate Bush had to choose one point among many to make, and then do it in as few words as possible. Each time it was Bush’s turn to speak, he was like a juggler with too many balls in the air. I could see him looking off into the middle distance, examining in his mind the seven different things he wanted to say. And almost every time, he looked like he couldn’t decide which ball to grab next — and in those moments of hesitation, ended up dropping all of them.

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