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Republican Party elites are starting to indicate that Rubio should be the guy to take on Cruz and Trump.

Except at the same time, they implicitly concede that Marco Rubio may not have what it takes to weather attacks from low-polling also-rans, let alone Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton.

Politico quotes several party elites essentially calling on Jeb Bush to get his allies to lay off Rubio.

They also quote a Bush supporter who says, “It’s gotten to the point where the old-timers are saying ‘it’s really sad.’ How as presumptive leader with $100 million in the bank did you get yourself in a box where you have to attack Rubio and Christie to win your lane?”

The tell—what gives away the migration toward Rubio—is these sources’ conspicuous silence about the fact that Rubio is attacking people in the same lane. The point isn’t to keep the fight among the candidates aboveboard. It’s to protect Rubio. Well, OK, but if Rubio can’t fend these guys off, how’s he going to fare against better candidates? And if it’s so crucial that basically everyone supporting Bush, Christie, et al, end up supporting him, why is he stuck in the mud fighting them? If there’s a plan to get Rubio to Trump’s league, then to beating Hillary Clinton, this story doesn’t inspire much confidence it can be executed. The “establishment lane” is a total mess.