Jeb v. Marco, "zipper problems," and a CNN talking head. photo: Jeb on Instagram, playing Frank Underwood (in more ways than one?)

Jeb v. Marco, “zipper problems,” and a CNN talking head.
photo: Jeb on Instagram, playing Frank Underwood (in more ways than one?)

THE ALLEGATIONS come through McCay Coppins on BuzzFeed, from his new book, The Wilderness: Deep Inside the Republican Party’s Combative, Contentious, Chaotic Quest to Take Back the White House. Jeb Bush doesn’t come off well at all. Surprised? Then you probably forgot how George W. Bush trashed John McCain in South Carolina.

From Coppins’ adaptation of his book on BuzzFeed

Eventually, word got back to the senator’s camp that Jeb’s close allies in Florida were working to revive the “zipper problem” meme in a last-ditch effort to freeze Rubio out of the race; they were circulating the rumors anew among donors and politicos and cautioning them to exercise due diligence before signing on with his campaign. From the scraps of intel Rubio’s team was getting from donors, it was difficult to tell how widespread or organized the whisper campaign might be, but some on Rubio’s staff believed they’d identified at least two of the culprits. The first was Ann Herberger, a Miami-based political fundraiser now on Jeb’s payroll whom Rubio had axed from his Senate campaign for failing to bring in donors. “Marco fired her and now she’s bitter,” a Rubio strategist told me.

The second culprit they’d identified was Ana Navarro. Few people inspired more acrimony among Rubio’s aides these days than the First Lady of the Biltmore, who they regarded as a flighty and spiteful socialite masquerading as a political strategist for TV.

They resented how she had allowed reporters to quote her as a “confidante” or “adviser” to Rubio for years, only to bolt to Jeb the second he decided to run for president. They now regularly heard about her dissing Rubio to the important power brokers and politicos who filtered in and out of her boyfriend’s hotel, and at least one of the senator’s advisers was convinced that she was fanning the infidelity rumors. “That woman couldn’t say nice things about her mother,” said the adviser. “She’s just gonna say acerbic things for the sake of saying them.” (Both Herberger and Navarro denied spreading rumors about Rubio.)

As this book lands, Republican senators have gone beyond Donald Trump, ready to endorse Marco Rubio to keep Ted Cruz from rising any further.

We’re making the turn, folks. It’s two months until it all begins.