Question: what would happen if a Republican pundit called Michelle Obama "mean" and suggested President Obama "unleash" her on an opponent? On With All Due Respect today, co-host Heilemann said that whereas her public image was that of a "lovely and matronly figure," First Lady Barbara Bush was in fact as "mean" and tough as anyone, and said he'd like to see the Bush campaign "unleash" her on Donald Trump.
Heilemann's comment, which we'll stipulate he presumably meant as a compliment in his own way, came in the context of a Jeb campaign video in which Mrs. Bush praises her son as a problem solver--but also takes an unsubtle shot at people who talk "about how popular they are, how great they are." Take that, Donald! Heilemann said he would like to see the Bush campaign "unleash" Barbara on Trump, saying she "might be the one best able to stand up to him."
MARK HALPERIN: Jeb Bush needs something of an assist, so he's doing what generations of Bush men have done before him. He's asking in effect: help me, mom, literally. Former First Lady Barbara Bush, who's arguably the most popular member of that clan, is sending out letters in support of Jeb to voters in Iowa and soon more letters to voters in New Hampshire and South Carolina. And today, the Bush campaign put out this web video with a very special message from mom. Today, the Bush campaign put out this web video with a special message from mom.
BARBARA BUSH: Jeb has been a very good father, a wonderful son, a hard worker. His heart is big. When push comes to shove, people are going to realize Jeb has real solutions rather than talking about how popular they are, how great they are. He's doing it because he sees a huge need and it's not being filled by anybody. Of all the people running, he seems to be the one who could solve the problems. I think he'll be a great president.
HALPERIN: Unmistakeable little shot at Donald Trump there.
. . .
JOHN HEILEMANN: This just brings back some warm memories for me of Barbara Bush when she was First Lady, because everyone looked at her as this kind of lovely, matronly kind of figure, and we all know that in fact inside the White House she was as mean and tough as anyone. She went negative on Donald Trump there without any fear. I'd like to see the campaign actually unleash her on Trump. She might be the one who's best able to stand up to him.