Is Jeb Bush secretly preparing to support the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton if Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination?
According to a report in Politico, Bush may go rogue and issue a public statement announcing his refusal to back the GOP front-runner if Trump is the eventual nominee.
According to two sources close to the Bush campaign, senior aides are now examining whether such a statement by Bush would disqualify him from certain state primary ballots, some of which demand candidates sign a loyalty pledge declaring that they will support the eventual Republican Party nominee, reports Politico.
Trump responded to the Bush scuttlebutt late Wednesday in a statement emailed to the Washington Post:
“I really don’t want Jeb’s endorsement because he is a low energy person and he does not represent strength, power and stamina, which are qualities our country desperately needs. But if he does not endorse and support me as the nominee, legally he cannot be on the ballot in many states so that would be the end of his candidacy – but that doesn’t matter because he is not going to win anyway. While everyone said I beat him last night, I was only responding to his desperate attempt to stay relevant by attacking me. Everybody said I won the debate last night including all eleven polls attached. Additionally, I have a 27-point lead in the Monmouth poll, and the just out Morning Consult poll shows me leading with 40%. Also, the highly respected Public Policy poll out yesterday shows me leading in Iowa with 28%. Jeb is only doing this because I committed to run as a Republican last night – so dishonorable.”
Rush Limbaugh also weighed in on the Politico story.
“Now, something like that, let’s say that if Jeb gets out, and if when he gets out he says, ‘I’m not gonna support Trump. I will not support him in a Republican Party nomination.’ Well, that could give Trump grounds to say, ‘Yeah, I’ve always predicated this on being treated fairly and being supported. If that’s not gonna happen, then screw you guys.’ I mean, I could see that happening, if Jeb or other powerful figures in the Republican Party publicly claim that they’re gonna split the scene. But aside from that, I mean, it was a pretty serious commitment [for Trump to declare he’ll stay running as a Republican], and it was sincere, and it was from the heart.”
In the fifth and final GOP debate of 2015, Trump pledged he would remain loyal to the party.
Trump ended speculation that he might run as a third-party candidate when moderator Hugh Hewitt asked, “Are you ready to reassure Republicans tonight that you will run as a Republican and abide by the decision of the Republicans?”
“I really am. I’ll be honest, I really am,” was Trump’s decisive response. “I promise you, I will do everything in my power to beat Hillary Clinton.”
As WND reported, Trump has already signed a pledge to support the Republican Party’s nominee, but that doesn’t mean the party’s establishment will support him, should he win the GOP presidential nod.
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A recent report by the Hill suggests the big-money Republican donors are actually looking to support Clinton for commander in chief if Trump is at the top of the GOP ticket.
The website says: “In conversations over the past month, GOP establishment donors have confided to the Hill that for the first time in recent memory, they find themselves contemplating not supporting a Republican nominee for president.”
The hesitation among establishment GOP donors comes as no surprise to Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager.
“The GOP establishment will do anything they can to stop Mr. Trump from being the GOP nominee,” Lewandowski told the Hill.
“Mr. Trump is the only one who is not controlled by the special interests. … They want a puppet that they can control, and Donald Trump will never be that person.”
Bush came at Trump with everything he had during Tuesday night’s debate, dismissing him as a “chaos candidate” and suggesting he gets his foreign-policy information from watching Saturday morning cartoons.
And the most talked-about moment on Facebook was when Bush told Trump: “You can’t insult your way to the presidency.”
“I’m at 42 [percent], and you’re at 3 [percent]. So, so far, I’m doing better,” Trump responded.
“Doesn’t matter,” Bush insisted. “Doesn’t matter.”
Pollster Frank Luntz suggested Bush fell flat during the exchange.
“The crowd may be applauding, but my focus group is laughing at Jeb. 22 of 26 members said Donald Trump won that exchange,” he tweeted at one point, adding that they used the words “weak,” “desperate” and “whiny” to describe Bush. “It’s over for him. Sorry,” Luntz wrote.
But Bush was taking a victory lap in several media interviews on Wednesday morning.
“It was a commander in chief debate. … I don’t know if the front-runner candidate fared that well in that kind of context,” the former Florida governor said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Bush, who trails Trump by almost 30 points in a RealClearPolitics average of polls, insisted “this is a wide-open race.”
Bush repeated during interviews on “Fox and Friends” and CNN’s “New Day” his argument that the billionaire businessman is “not a serious candidate.”
“I have a steady hand. I’m not going to be spouting off and scaring people,” Bush said on Fox News.
In the minutes after the debate wrapped up, Trump restated his commitment to the Republican Party.
“When they asked it, I did not hesitate. I decided to just say, ‘Yes, I’m a Republican. I’m not going to be doing a third-party [campaign],'” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
“No matter what,” he added when pressed.
Trump said he was already focused on his inevitable showdown against Clinton.
“I mean, I don’t even know that she’s gonna be allowed to run because what she did with her emails is a big problem for her, I think,” he told CNN. “However, probably she will be protected because she’s a Democrat in a Democrat administration. But, on the assumption that she’s allowed to run, I think I will beat her soundly, I hope.”