Although Jeb Bush dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination, the former Florida governor plans to join forces with the remaining candidates in an apparent effort to unseat Donald Trump as the clear frontrunner. According to a Wednesday New York Times report, Bush will meet with Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich ahead of Thursday’s debate.
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Rubio admitted on Wednesday evening that he did meet with Bush, but he would not reveal what was discussed.
Bush dropped out of the race last month after performing poorly in a slew of early-voting state primary contests, even after entering the field with a commanding lead in fundraising efforts. Throughout his campaign, Bush repeatedly accused Trump of everything from misogyny to racism, but the real estate mogul fired back by dismissing Bush as a â€ślow-energyâ€ť candidate who did not have the leadership ability to take the Oval Office.
Now, Bush appears poised to continue his assault on Trump by conferring with his challengers for the nomination. Such an approach might work with Rubio, who considered Bush a political mentor until their relationship became complicated by their presidential ambitions, as well as Kasich, who has tried to appeal to Bush’s wealthy donors by pointing to their similar platforms and his longevity within the race.
Thursday’s GOP debate will mark a decisive moment in the contentious race, as it is the final primary debate of the election cycle and the last chance for candidates to sway voters before the winner-take-all primary contests in Florida and Ohio on March 15. Trump is on track to win Florida by a landslide, holding a 17-point lead in the latest RealClear Politics polling average, but faces a more difficult battle in Ohio, where his projected margin of victory of Kasich is smaller.
Although former president George W. Bush has indicated that he will not endorse a political candidate, Jeb Bush has yet to make such a declaration. An endorsement for second-place contender Cruz could potentially give the Texas senator a much needed boost, but Bush’s tepid impact on the GOP primary suggests that his words would not dramatically shift the dynamics of the race.