Here we go: Jeb Bush compares Rubio to Obama, says he followed Bush's lead in Florida; Update: Bush said Rubio was qualified to be president in 2012

That Obama comparison seems like a cheap shot. Just because Rubio’s a fortysomething first-term Senator and former state legislator with great rhetorical chops and little experience managing anything who’s running for president as a pathbreaking minority candidate and who happens to favor amnesty and, er…

You know, maybe it’s not such a cheap shot.

This clip is the logical consequence of the panic that’s gripping Bushworld lately over Rubio’s rise in the polls. Jeb, I think, decided early that he’d hold off on attacking him until it was absolutely necessary — and lo and behold, on October 1st, it’s already absolutely necessary. Rubio’s gained momentum from the first two Republican debates and there’s every reason to think that’ll continue at the next one on October 28th given his retail skills. If he bounces out further ahead of Bush after that, some chunk of Bush donors will decide that it’s time to abandon ship and join up with Rubio. This is Jeb trying to contain the damage that’s already been done.

And lest you think there’s anything spontaneous about this answer, note that he hit all the same points yesterday in speaking to CNN:

“I’m a proven leader,” Bush told CNN’s Dana Bash before his town hall. “I disrupted the old order in Tallahassee. I relied on people like Marco Rubio and many others to follow my leadership, and we moved the needle.”…

Rubio, 44, is running as a new generation candidate. Bush likened his pitch to Obama’s in 2008.

“Look, we had a president who came in and said the same kind of thing — new and improved, hope and change — and he didn’t have the leadership skills to fix things,” Bush said.

He also mentioned at yesterday’s townhall the disturbing habit of missing votes that certain members of Congress have. Whoever could he have meant?

Here’s the clip, the funniest part of which comes when Bush is challenged to say directly whether he thinks Rubio has the skills to fix things. For a moment he seems to grasp for a politic way of saying no without actually saying it, and then he just says it — and seems almost surprised that he did. You’d see the exact same look on the face of a “sensitive dad from a contemporary sitcom” upon getting into a fight and suddenly finding himself landing a hard right to his opponent’s jaw. He didn’t know he had it in him! That’s the first clip. The second is of Trump calling BS — really — on the Bush/Rubio friendship. Exit question: Should we start a pool on when Jeb drops out and endorses Rubio as the only man in the race with the skills to fix things? I’ll take the day after the Florida primary.

Update: Oddly enough, Bush was much more enthusiastic about the idea of a President Rubio back in 2012, when he wasn’t running against him. Note the part here where he says Rubio had more relevant experience than Obama had when he became president.

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