POLITICS

Jeb Bush Explains Why Presidential Candidates Ignore Debate Questions

"It's a performance."

Have you ever noticed how few questions candidates actually answer during a presidential debate? Of course you have! It's made you want to throw your remote control at the television and tear up your voter registration card.

In a post-debate interview on Wednesday morning, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush broke down this maddening feature of the primary process. His explanation may not be surprising, but it's refreshingly candid.

"It's not really a debate. It's a performance," Bush said in an interview on CNN's "New Day," possibly sleep-deprived to the point of complete transparency.

The moderators' questions, Bush suggested, are there to be skirted.

"You have to take the moment to be able to say what you want to say, rather than answer the question," he said. "I was brought up in a family where, you know, someone asked you a question, you answered it. You've got to avoid all of them. You really have to be respectful of the question, but get to the point you want to make."

So there you have it -- that's why so many pointed queries are greeted with canned speeches, responses to rivals' earlier attacks or calls for a moment of silence.

Bush, who's lagging in the polls, spent much of his allotted time Tuesday night going after front-runner Donald Trump, asserting repeatedly that the real estate magnate is not to be taken seriously. The following morning, Bush seemed pleased with that decision and his overall performance, as did "New Day" co-hosts Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

"In the case of Donald Trump, he's a bully," Bush said. "Look, I mean, you guys interview him all the time. He has his way. To post up against him and push back, you get a sense he's not quite all in command."

Cuomo said he relished two of Bush's zingers on Trump in particular. In one, Bush called Trump the "chaos candidate." In the other, Bush seemed to suggest Trump takes his foreign policy cues from cartoons. "I won’t get my information from 'the shows,'" Bush said. “I don’t know if that’s Saturday morning or Sunday morning. I don’t know which one."

"Those were quality lines!" Cuomo said.

The hosts asked Bush if he had come up with the lines on his own, or if his advisers had.

"The Saturday part I just kind of made it up as I went along," the candidate said with a hint of pride.

The "chaos candidate" comment, though, "was a committee effort, I guess," Bush said with a laugh.

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