By Ashley Parker – – – – –
Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida who ended his presidential bid after a string of disappointing finishes, is planning to meet with three of the remaining Republican candidates while they’re in Miami for the Republican debate.
Mr. Bush has plans to meet with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, an aide to Mr. Bush confirmed. The list’s glaring omission, of course, was Donald J. Trump.
As a candidate, Mr. Bush made taking on Mr. Trump, forcefully and repeatedly, a hallmark of his campaign, criticizing him for disparaging women, Hispanics and the disabled, and warning that he was insufficiently serious to be commander-in-chief.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, always seemed to hold Mr. Bush, and his dynastic family, in poor regard, attacking him from almost the first moment he entered the race. It was Mr. Trump’s two-word insult — dubbing Mr. Bush “low-energy” — that helped devastate Mr. Bush’s campaign, as voters parroted back the phrase and Mr. Bush, who in fact routinely held several free-wheeling events every day, was never able to fully shake the moniker.
The relationship between Mr. Bush and Mr. Rubio is especially fraught. As governor of Florida, Mr. Bush helped mentor Mr. Rubio, then a charismatic, up-and-coming lawmaker, even bestowing on him a sword when he became speaker of the Florida House. But Mr. Bush’s team was livid when the young protégée entered the 2016 race, refusing to cede the Florida political world to Mr. Bush, in what many viewed as a betrayal.