Former Bush family advisor Mary Matalin says she was “flummoxed” by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s performance at Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate.
The veteran GOP strategist said Bush’s decision to go after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for missing votes in the Senate was an example of “political malfeasance.”
“I love Jeb and I know Jeb, and I’m flummoxed by that,” she told host John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on New York’s AM-970, in an interview set to be aired Sunday.
“It’s a violation of debate 101: Never ask an opponent or never address to an opponent something you know he’s prepared for, which clearly Rubio was,” she said, adding: “It cuts against his message of ‘I’m a happy warrior.’ ”
Matalin, who served as a top political advisor to both presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, said she believes the favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas.), whom she said appeals to conservatives of all stripes.
“My money right now is on Ted Cruz,” she said. “Again, I’m unaligned, but I think he speaks to the myriad factions of conservatism: Constitutionalists, Libertarians, the social conservatives.”
“I think he’s whip-smart, as evidenced by his debate appearances, and he’s a true, true, true constitutionalist, and everything’s lining up for him,” she added.
Matalin said the trio of outsider candidates in the field — Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Donald Trump — have had a positive influence on the election by forcing other candidates out of their shells.
“I think all three of them, whom I know, whom I’ve had at the house, except for Trump, they really add to the field because they have shown these other candidates who have been afraid to take on the mainstream press or take on political correctness or take on conventional wisdom to go ahead and do it,” she said.
She praised Carson’s willingness to take on the Republican National Committee on its debate format, which she said would have been “unthinkable” in prior elections.