Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush aimed his sights repeatedly at Donald Trump during Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, telling the real estate mogul “you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency.”
Bush’s first attack focused on Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.
“It’s not a serious proposal,” Bush said. “It will push the Arab world away when we need them to engage.”
“Trump is great at one-liners,” Bush continued. “But he is a chaos candidate."
Despite his opposition to a complete ban on Muslim entry to the U.S., Bush has spoken in support of a religion-based system for refugee admissions from Syria in which Christians would take priority over Muslims. He did not reiterate that position during the debate, and instead insisted that “the refugee issue will be solved if we destroy ISIS” in Iraq and Syria.
Bush supports directly arming the Kurdish peshmerga fighters in the fight against the self-described Islamic State, also known as ISIS. He noted that it would be impossible to ask Muslims to work with the Americans to defeat the Islamic State if they are banned from entering the U.S.
The former Florida governor honed in on Trump again later while discussing his strategy to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, referencing Trump’s September admission that he forms his foreign policy opinions by watching “the shows.”
“I won't get my information from the shows. I don't know if that's Saturday morning or Sunday morning,” Bush said, in a nod to networks’ former tradition of airing Saturday morning cartoons. “I don't know which one.”
Instead of rebuffing Bush’s jab by spelling out a strategy for countering Putin, Trump accused the moderators -- including conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt -- of being “very unprofessional” for goading Bush into attacking Trump in an effort to boost ratings.
“I think it’s very sad that CNN leads Jeb Bush down a road by starting all the questions, ‘Mr. Trump this, Mr. Trump that.’ I think it’s very sad,” Trump said.
“Look, the simple fact is, if you think this is tough you're not being treated fairly, imagine what it's going to be like dealing with Putin or dealing with President Xi, or dealing with the Islamic terrorism that exists,” Bush interjected. “This is a tough business, to run for president. ... You're never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.”
Trump responded by citing his rival’s sinking poll numbers, retorting, “So far, I'm doing better.”
Read more from the GOP debate here.
Ariel Edwards-Levy contributed to this report.
This post has been updated to include comments from later in the debate about weekend news shows and questions focused on Trump.
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