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If not Jeb Bush, then Chris Christie, not Marco Rubio

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As Jeb Bush’s campaign struggles to stay above the margin of error in national polls of the presidential race, this Jeb supporter is looking for a new candidate to give his exclamation mark.

I just finished reading Eli Stokols and Marc Caputo dispiriting report about Bush’s campaign and how many staffers and top level donors – even those still committed to the former Florida governor – recognize the campaign is in a death spiral.

“Jeb just isn’t very talented at this. And the problem is that Jeb has been coddled by a group of people who worship Jeb,” said one high-level Republican strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “They ran a campaign based on what they wanted the party to be, instead of what the party was.”

I can’t say I disagree with that assessment, as much as I genuinely don’t want to believe the end result. Counterintuitively, I still believe there is a possibility Bush can pull out of this tailspin. And even if he doesn’t, there’s really no shame in remaining committed to a man who did great things while governor of Florida and is, especially since the terrorist attacks in Paris, the most sober-minded presidential candidate.

Yet, as much as I want to believe in a Bush comeback, I am not putting (any more of) my money in my PredictIt account behind his candidacy. So which horse do I now back?

Obviously, it’s not Donald Trump. As much as I enjoy the circus, I don’t want to live there. Not to get all Alec Baldwin, but if Trump becomes President of the United States, it’s time to move to Australia.

It’s not Ted Cruz, although he’s as likely as any candidate to end up the GOP nominee. But I feel the same way as Frank Bruni: Anybody but Ted Cruz. I don’t like Tea Party. Cruz himself is not likable enough. And if he’s the nominee, too many of my moderate Republican allies down-the-ballot in Florida will be blown away by no-name Democrats.

As for Ben Carson, to quote Jack Nicholson in the film “As Good As It Gets,” sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here.

Being an establishment Republican, I am left with three realistic choices: John KasichMarco Rubio, or Chris Christie.

Kasich is capable and if he is the nominee, I could support him. But Kasich doesn’t excite me (or most anyone else), so I doubt he finishes higher than fifth place in any of the four early-voting states. And I seriously doubt the Ohio governor will play well in the SEC primary or in Florida.

Rubio is a Floridian, so I should support him, especially if Bush leaves the race. But as much as I recognize Rubio’s extraordinary political talent, I do not think he is capable of governing this country. Nothing in his record suggests he’d be much of an executive. I appreciate how inspiring he is and, hey, did you know his father was a bartender (just like mine), but what the tail-end of the Barack Obama presidency is teaching us is we need five-tool players governing the country, not just soaring orators. I would not be surprised if Rubio is the nominee, especially with his ability to make old, rich, white men pay for the privilege of making them think a contribution to him makes them cool, but I believe there are better choices.

Which brings me to Chris Christie. I can’t believe this is where I may end up, but he may be the man for the times. He makes me feel safe, without making me think he’s one bad real estate deal away from blowing up a country. He gets angry, but these are angry times. He shouts down those who disagree with him, but that’s better than encouraging others to kick the crap out of a protester.

Before writing this, I went shopping at International Mall in Tampa. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking of the atrocious Chuck Norris movie “Invasion U.S.A.,” in which terrorists start a shootout at a mall where people are doing their Christmas shopping. I also kept looking suspiciously at nearly every head-scarved fellow shopper. I feel horrible about that, but a part of me is genuinely scared, despite the infinitesimal chances that some ISIS-inspired home-grown terrorist will shoot up Dillard’s.

But that’s where I am. And I know I am hardly the only one who feels more scared than they want to be.

I’m looking for a president who makes me feel safe, makes me feel confident about our country, has enough executive experience to deal with the sprawling federal government, and has displayed compassion for his fellow Americans.

To that last point, I believe Christie started to win me over when he snapped at Trump and Carly Fiorina, saying “While I’m as entertained as anyone by this personal back-and-forth about the history of Carly’s career, the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job … they could care less about their careers. They care about theirs.”

So if its not going to be Bush and it can’t be Trump, Carson, or Cruz, this moderate, slightly scared, but ever optimistic establishment Republican is starting to lean towards Chris Christie.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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