After months of being mocked, humiliated and defeated by rival Donald Trump, former Gov. Jeb Bush made the claim Tuesday morning that Trump’s relentless attacks on him are actually motivated, deep down, by fear.
“I’m his primary target, and I’m doing so poor in the polls, according to everybody, right? Well, why is that? Why is he going after me each and every day?” Bush said during an appearance on “CBS This Morning.” “It’s because he fears me, because I’m the only guy standing up to him. I think he is not going to be the conservative party’s nominee. He’s not a conservative.”
Once viewed as a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination thanks to his high name recognition and huge war chest, Bush is now well behind not only Trump, but also Sens. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] and [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore]. A big reason as to why he’s so low in the polls may be the torrent of jibes, insults and attacks Trump has leveled against him.
In 2015, Trump famously characterized Bush as a “low-energy candidate,” a label that was tough to shake. More recently, Trump has targeted Bush’s family, mocking him for having his mother (“mommy,” in Trump’s words) campaign with him and bashing the security record of his brother, former President George W. Bush.
“The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that,” Trump said during Saturday’s Republican debate. On Monday, he doubled down, likening the claim George kept America safe to a baseball team claiming to have good defense after giving up 19 runs in the first inning.
Sometimes, Trump’s ridicule appears to have cracked Bush’s composure. In late August, he snapped at reporters who kept bringing up Trump when he didn’t want to talk about him, and in October he complained that he had “really cool things” he could be doing rather than running for president and “sit[ting] around, being miserable, [and] listening to people demonize me.” In December, Bush straightforwardly called Trump a “jerk.”
On Tuesday, Bush said he’d considered trying to ignore Trump, but said he couldn’t because Trump had to be stopped.
“I get back to thinking, he’s hijacked my party,” he said. “I’ve been a conservative all my adult life, and someone has to take a stand.”
More recently, Bush has been working hard at these counterattacks. In an early February debate before the New Hampshire primary, Bush aggressively criticized Trump’s record on eminent domain. Thus far, it doesn’t seem to have dented Trump’s lead in the polls.
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