Nate Jackson / October 20, 2015

Bush (No, the Last One) vs. Cruz

“I just don’t like the guy.”

“I just don’t like the guy,” George W. Bush reportedly told a room full of donors Sunday night. And he wasn’t talking about Donald Trump, who’s eating his brother Jeb’s lunch in the presidential race; he was referring to his own Texas senator and former employee, Ted Cruz. Bush reportedly called Cruz “opportunistic” for angling to win over Trump supporters in the event the real estate mogul leaves the race. (Duh?)

Cruz took the high road, though he has previously criticized Bush 43’s record. He responded, “I have great respect for George W. Bush, and was proud to work on his 2000 campaign and in his administration. It’s no surprise that President Bush is supporting his brother and attacking the candidates he believes pose a threat to his campaign. I have no intention of reciprocating. I met my wife Heidi working on his campaign, and so I will always be grateful to him.”

But Bush wasn’t done, saying through a spokesman that he doesn’t consider Cruz to be Jeb’s “most serious rival.” What does W. expect to accomplish here? Cruz supporters (and, frankly, anyone supporting Not Bush in the 2016 campaign) aren’t going to be swayed by 43’s jab, and may be turned off by it. Furthermore, Bush has been a very gracious and quiet former president, refusing to criticize almost anyone — especially Barack Obama and Democrats. So why Cruz, and why now? Perhaps because of the experienced candidates in the GOP field, none embodies the “outsider” more than Cruz, who frequently talks of breaking up the “Washington cartel.” If Cruz looks like he may win the nomination, you’re going to see a lot more of this sort of attack coming from his own party.

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