UPDATE 2-Steady debate performance banishes gloom for US Republican Jeb Bush
* Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio get social media boost
* Donald Trump assailed over Putin, immigration proposal (Adds Eric Cantor comments, Bush townhall meeting details)
By Steve Holland, Emily Stephenson and Ginger Gibson
MILWAUKEE, Nov 11 (Reuters) - A steady performance by Jeb Bush in Tuesday's Republican debate has halted the sense of desperation around his U.S. presidential campaign and may buy him time to counter the rise of chief rival Marco Rubio.
The fourth Republican debate in the search for a 2016 presidential nominee was characterized by a constant stream of attacks against front-runner Donald Trump and gaffe-free performances by Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, two up-and-coming U.S. senators in the race.
But the most relieved candidate after the two-hour encounter inside the Milwaukee Theatre was Bush, the former Florida governor who was outclassed in the three previous debates and has suffered an erosion of support from Republican voters and a drop-off in financial donations.
"I thought the debate went well, and I had a good debate because I got to talk about things with a little substance instead of the cute one-liners," Bush said Wednesday morning on Fox News. In the same appearance, Bush announced he had received the endorsement of former Republican senator and one-time presidential nominee Bob Dole.
The performance sent waves of excitement through Bush's donor base.
"He was much improved from the prior debate and just demonstrated that Jeb is a serious candidate with the leadership skills and the experience," said Eric Cantor, the former Republican House Majority Leader who is raising funds for Bush. "I think coming out of that debate, Jeb is very well poised to really gain some momentum." Continuación...