When moderator Neil Cavuto nudged Jeb Bush to attack Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States—something he had done with gusto (if not success) in the last couple of debates—he seemed cautious rather than assertive. First, Jeb acknowledged the fear many Americans feel, and blamed Obama for that fear—these people, he seemed to imply, form Trump’s base of support.
But this time, unlike in past debates, Jeb didn’t go much further—he called Trump’s policy “unhinged,” which he has done in the past, but said that he hoped Trump would “reconsider” the policy, as it would hurt America’s standing in the world.
It’s unclear if this polite appeal is the result of a personal or a political decision: Jeb may have decided that he can’t politically afford to keep getting owned by Donald Trump every debate, or he may have decided that he can’t personally afford to keep getting owned by Donald Trump every debate. But one thing is clear: Jeb is done trying to land any punches on Trump. His Twitter account is still going in though: