Earlier this week, in a post that disputed the claim that Jeb Bush is to blame for rise of Donald Trump, I wrote that if Bush endorses Marco Rubio ahead of the Florida primary, he will have nothing to apologize for if Trump is the nominee. At the time, the speculation in Florida was that Bush likely would endorse Rubio.
Today, however, the Washington Post tell us that a spokeswoman for Bush says he has no plan to back Rubio, his former protege.
If true, that’s pathetic. As Adam C. Smith, political editor of the Tampa Times says, “Bush may doubt Rubio’s preparedness, but he doesn’t doubt Rubio is a better choice than Trump.” Thus, “the former governor would look incredibly petty if he did not step up and do something to help derail Trump.”
Four years ago, Bush recommended Rubio to Mitt Romney as a running mate. If Rubio was prepared to be vice president then, any “doubt” Bush has about Rubio’s preparedness for the presidency for years later cannot be substantial.
Moreover, while he was in this year’s race Bush did a better job than any candidate of articulating Trump’s unfitness for the presidency. Surely, Bush understands not just that Rubio is a better choice than Trump, but that it’s no contest.
It’s one thing if Bush wants to make Rubio sweat for a few days. That would be petty, but understandable given Bush’s unhappiness with Rubio’s entry into the race and the bitterness that resulted from their rival campaigns.
But for Bush to remain neutral throughout the run-up to the Florida primary would be unforgivable. Politicians don’t prove their good character by giving classy speeches announcing their withdrawal from the campaign after they have been trounced. They prove it by putting the bitterness of the trouncing behind them and doing what they know is best for the country.
Our country is on the verge of seeing the Republican party taken over by a left of center authoritarian bully who understands public policy and world affairs only dimly and the U.S. Constitution little, if at all. Anyone who perceives this, as Bush has shown he does, has a responsibility to do whatever he or she can to block Trump’s hostile takeover.
What Bush can do is endorse Marco Rubio in order, if nothing else, to minimize Trump’s chances of winning almost 100 delegates. A Bush endorsement would carry plenty of weight in Florida.
Enough weight to carry Rubio to victory in Florida? Maybe not. Enough impact to derail Trump? Doubtful.
But these aren’t the relevant questions right now. Republicans who understand the danger Trump poses have less than two weeks to try to stop him. It’s time — past time, actually — for them to pull their finger out.