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CEO Daily: Wednesday, November 18

Can Jeb Bush save his failing campaign by being reasonable?

 

That’s the gambit he decided to try yesterday. The tragedy in Paris has pushed the other Republican candidates into a fight for the most nativist positions — Trump wants to shut down mosques, Christie wants to ban Syrian children, etc. And so far, Republican voters seem to be rewarding their extremism — a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted since the Paris attacks found 36% of voters have more confidence in Trump’s ability to do the job.

 

But Bush is taking a different tack. “The answer is not to ban all people from coming” to the U.S., Bush said yesterday. Embracing refugees “has been a noble tradition in our country for many years.”

 

So far this campaign season, bluster has prevailed over sanity. And so far, Bush’s moderation has only caused him to sink in the polls. Any reason to think that will change now? Probably not. But it’s still worth noting. Read Tory Newmyer ‘s analysis here.

 

More news below.

 

 

Alan Murray
@alansmurray
alan.murray@fortune.com

Top News

Norfolk Southern bristles at bid

Norfolk Southern essentially rejected a $28.4 billion bid by Canadian Pacific Railway, calling it “low-premium” and warning it would face significant regulatory hurdles. Earlier Tuesday, Canadian Pacific took the deal public and argued the combination would offer unparalleled customer service and competitive rates for shippers. But Norfolk Southern’s tone represents a setback, especially for Canadian Pacific’s largest shareholder: William Ackman’s hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management. Reuters

Airgas agrees to sale for $10.3 billion

Airgas, one of the largest U.S. suppliers of industrial, medical and specialty gases, agreed to be acquired by French industrial gas company Air Liquide. The deal represents a far loftier price than what American rival Air Products and Chemicals – that deal was for $5.9 billion but withdrawn in early 2011. This time around the deal is friendly, with both boards approving the merger. Shares of Airgas jumped 29% on Tuesday. New York Times (subscription)

TiVo CEO to step down

Tom Rogers, who has led the digital video recorder maker for 11 years, will step down on Jan. 31 and become the company’s non-executive chairman. The planned exit comes soon after TiVo in October reported it lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers to its video recorder and related services in recent years. The company’s share price has slid 29% during the past year. Fortune

DOJ move rates supplement sellers

The Justice Department unveiled the results of a sweeping investigation into the dietary supplements industry, resulting in criminal indictments of a Texas manufacturer and four of its executives. The news sets shares of supplement sellers, including GNC and Vitamin Shoppe, plummeting even though neither company was named in the DOJ’s announcement. The vitamin and supplement industry brings in sales of about $18 billion a year and is expected to grow steadily over the next decade. But it is also a tough aspect of the market for the FDA to regulate. Fortune

Walmart’s online growth slows

While investors were pleased with the upswing in sales and traffic at Walmart when the company released quarterly results on Tuesday, one glaring problem surfaced in the report: e-commerce isn’t a strong force in the turnaround. Though U.S. comparable sales have now increased for five consecutive quarters, the global e-commerce unit grew by only 10% – a far smaller rate than in any preceding quarter this fiscal year. That increase is well below Amazon.com’s 23% growth last year. Fortune

Around the Water Cooler

LinkedIn’s Hoffman calls out unicorns

“Unicorns” – any private company that is valued at $1 billion or more by investors – aren’t such a rare breeds these days. But Reid Hoffman, who co-founded LinkedIn, believes many unicorns are unlikely to see those values recognized by Wall Street investors. Hoffman essentially argues that private markets have big investors willing to do what they can to get in a deal – meaning it is very easy to get a high valuation. Hoffman only expects a third to half of the unicorns today to “survive and thrive.” Fortune

Rivals take on UPS, FedEx

When you think about packages being delivered to your home or office, generally almost all those orders not processed by the Postal Service are done by two companies in the U.S.: the United Parcel Service and FedEx. That domination is being challenged as sales of bulky items via online channels accelerates, as consumers buy more big-ticket items like patio chairs and washing machines. As a result, XPO Logistics and others are gaining market share by offering competitive pricing but also throwing in services, such as furniture assembly and trash removal. WSJ (subscription required)