Jeb Bush, the man who would be frontrunner, was as surprised as anybody when Donald Trump jumped into the 2016 presidential race in June. His instinctive first reaction was to hold his tongue....Seriously, Jeb? That's how you take Trump on?
Like everyone else, Bush soon found Trump impossible to ignore....
“Seriously, what’s this guy’s problem?” he asked one party donor he ran into recently, according to accounts provided by several sources close to Bush -- and he went on to describe the publicity-seeking real estate developer now surging in public polls far ahead of Bush and all the 15 others in the Republican field as “a buffoon,” “clown” and “asshole.”
You could have said something angry and forceful in public, but no -- you leaked your attack, or "several sources close to" you leaked it ... to Politico, the most insider-y of publications. And there's no public record of you saying this, so you were covered if the quote had somehow made you look bad. You could have just denied you said it.
Look, I assume this was a leak timed to get Trump to attack Jeb in tonight's debate, in the misguided belief that Trump hurts himself, and helps his target, when he goes on the attack. But still: this was cowardice. If Jeb wanted to go after Trump, he should have said something publicly. He didn't have the guts.
UPDATE, 10:30 P.M.: In the debate, Jeb just denied the quote. Sneaky and spineless.