Jeb Bush, the erstwhile GOP presidential front-runner, has taken a hammering from the new king, Donald Trump, for weeks, and now appears to be embracing a new strategy: fighting back.
The New York Times,
in a story published online Monday, notes that the new effort was visible on Monday, when Bush toured the U.S. border with Mexico in McAllen, Texas, where he termed Trump's plan to deport all illegal immigrants "unrealistic."
Trump's plans, Bush said, are un-Republican. Bush then borrowed a page from Trump, who often touts his best-selling "The Art of the Deal"
as second only to the Bible, to suggest his rival read his own book, "Immigration Wars,"
for ideas on how to better handle the immigration issue.
Trump’s plans "are not ground in conservative principles," Bush said, and would cost hundreds of billions of dollars. "It’s not realistic, it won’t be implemented."
Mass deportations will violate civil liberties and unnecessarily create friction with America's largest trading partner, the former Florida governor added.
Trump, he added, is "a serious candidate and ought to be held what serious candidates are held to. He needs to be held to accounted for his views."
The Times called Bush's change a "calculated strategy" from his past effort of ignoring the bombastic billionaire who mocks his rivals. Trump most recently has taken to saying Bush is a "nice person," but too "low energy" to take on the task of righting a listing American ship.
Trump's rivals had expected his star to fade by now, but his continued lead in the polls has forced Bush to change tack.
The campaign now aims "to dilute Mr. Trump’s right-wing support by proving that he is not a genuine conservative and to show a wary Republican Party that Mr. Bush is enough of a street fighter to survive a nasty nomination contest," the Times wrote.
The effort was first seen last week as the Trump and Bush traded jabs at dueling town hall meetings in New Hampshire. Surrogates are expected to join the effort soon.
Former Mitt Romney adviser Kevin Madden told the Times Bush's move "is a recognition that we're moving from the August preseason to the regular season where the wins and losses matter."
"The longer they let Trump do all of the talking, the greater the risk was that those criticisms could sink in with voters," Madden said.
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