Jeb and the Donald Need to Go One on One
As the principal butt of Trump's insults, Jeb needs to challenge him to a face off in Iowa. He should rent a hall, get Rush Limbaugh as a moderator, and invite the Donald to answer, and ask, in detail, three questions from his opponent. Trump would be given half the tickets to ensure a neutral crowd.
If Trump agrees Jeb would have the chance to display his superior command of the issues.If he doesn't think he can outperform Trump in this format, what makes him think he ever will? If Trump declines, he goes ahead with the event anyway, and poses the three questions to a cardboard cutout.
This would be criticized as a sign of desperation, and there's some truth to that. But Jeb already appears desperate as he flounders under Trump's assaults. Every tactic he's employed up to now has failed or backfired. He's losing the long range artillery duel. He needs to fix bayonets and charge.
If Jeb were playing poker he would have already lost half his stake. He can hoard what he's got left, and lose slowly, or go all in, and have a chance to win.
If nothing else, it would demonstrate some courage, a quality not currently associated with Jeb. The questions he'd get from Trump would be tough, and if he can't answer them adequately he could be fatally wounded. But by standing alone on the stage with Trump, and engaging him in a serious discussion of the issues, he'd have a chance to reestablish himself as a leader in the fight for the nomination.
The media would love this idea. A steel cage death match! Ratings to beat the band. Speculation would be rife as to which questions each of them would ask the other. Everybody would have suggestions. It would dominate coverage for a week or more.
What's the Donald to do, dismiss it as a publicity stunt by a man without hope? Say that it wouldn't be fair to the other candidates? Whatever he does, if he refuses to participate he would be seen as gun shy. Donald Trump, gun shy?
A month ago this idea would have been outlandish. Trump would somehow stumble. He won't last. Nobody will take him seriously. Wrong, wrong, and wrong again. A month from now might be too late.
Trump has tormented Jeb, and is in the process of turning him into a laughingstock.
He needs to man up.
Fritz Pettyjohn is a former Alaska Legislator and a Co-founder of the Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force. He blogs at ReaganProject.com