Jeb Bush Comes Out Swinging…Then Stumbles

The conventional wisdom that has developed recently about the 2016 Republican candidates is that they can’t criticize Donald Trump and risk losing his supporters. The thinking has been that perhaps their SuperPacs can eventually do so while providing “plausible deniability” for the candidates themselves.

Apparently Jeb Bush didn’t get that memo. Here’s a video the Jeb! campaign released yesterday.

In just over a minute, it goes after Trump on his immigration proposal from the left for his plan to “deport ’em all,” and then from the right for critiquing Mitt Romney’s idea about “self deportation.” That’s a pretty direct hit on the number one issue that has come to define Trump’s candidacy.

But then yesterday Bush had another gaffe moment that drew all of the attention away from this message. During a press conference in the border town of McAllen, TX, he got pretty testy when asked about his use of the term “anchor babies” and said that – rather than applying to Mexicans – it’s more of a problem with Asian immigrants. That created another scenario that he is likely to be answering questions about for the next few days.

Perhaps it is still early enough in this campaign that these stumbles indicate a steep learning curve and Jeb will eventually get his footing. But if he really does want to take on Donald Trump directly, this is certainly not how that’s done.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.