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Bush Gearing Up for Trump's 'Hand Grenades' in GOP Debate

Bush Gearing Up for Trump's 'Hand Grenades' in GOP Debate
(Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 16 July 2015 08:51 AM

After sustaining heavy criticism from Donald Trump since the real estate mogul announced his campaign for president, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is bracing himself for attacks during the Republican debate on Aug. 6. 

"Trump presents a challenge for Bush because he's a hand grenade," Nelson Warfield, a longtime GOP strategist who has prepared a number of candidates for debates, told Politico. "His people understand that and will be prepared for anything that comes their way."

Trump has been relentless in his criticism of Bush, describing him as a "disaster" and pondering, "How the hell can you vote for this guy?"

"Trump has one target and one target only," said an adviser to a GOP candidate. "He's going to bring a lawn mower for Bush."

According to Politico, Bush has immersed himself in debate preparation. In recent months he has held mock sessions with advisers and last week spent time in debate at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, amounting to a total of nearly 50 hours in preparation.

"I've been impressed by how hard Jeb has been and is working. He takes all the aspects of running seriously and has spent considerable time in learning and practicing to make himself a better candidate," Ana Navarro, a longtime Bush ally, told Politico. "Jeb's always been a hard worker and serious guy, but he is going about with an unwavering commitment and humility, and more surprisingly, patience, I'd say."

Bush has already hired two former Romney advisers to help with preparation: Beth Myers and Peter Flaherty. He is also relying on advice from two of his top campaign aides, Sally Bradshaw and Trent Wisecup.

"It all depends on how far Trump is willing to take this," Warfield told Politico. "If he comes after Bush, and Bush defends himself forcefully, it could be a positive thing."

It's unclear at this point what Trump's strategy will be. But regardless, Bush will have other concerns going into debate.

Bush's front-runner status will also make him the object of focus of the other eight candidates. They will seek to exploit his vulnerabilities with conservative voters on a range of issues, particularly his positions on Common Core and immigration.

Meanwhile, the other candidates are also putting in their time to prepare for the debate.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has been convening regular "murder board" sessions with top advisers at his campaign headquarters in Washington, according to Politico.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has also been receiving coaching and has a handful of debate practice sessions in the last month, though he may not qualify for the Aug. 6 debate, which requires candidates to place in the top ten of the average of national polling

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has also been preparing with his team, Politico said.

Nevertheless, viewers will likely be tuning in to witness a Bush-Trump standoff.

"He's gone against Trump, so he's exposed himself," former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, told Politico. "To that extent, he's set himself up for a one-on-one with him."

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After sustaining heavy criticism from Donald Trump since the real estate mogul announced his campaign for president, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is bracing himself for attacks during the Republican debate on Aug. 6.
jeb bush, donald trump, debate, august 6, gop
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2015-51-16
Thursday, 16 July 2015 08:51 AM
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