The feud between Republican presidential contenders Donald Trump and Jeb Bush is heating up, and a third candidate, Scott Walker, has joined in the Bush-bashing.
Bush’s campaign released a video featuring television clips of Trump, years ago, endorsing some liberal ideas – all part of a Bush effort to undermine Trump’s support among conservatives. The video shows Trump saying “I’m pro-choice [on abortion] in every respect.” Trump is also shown praising Hillary Clinton, then-secretary of state for President Barack Obama, as someone who would “do a good job in negotiating with Iran.” Trump also endorses a single-payer system for providing health care, which is strongly opposed by many conservatives. And Trump says, “You would be shocked if I said that, in many cases, I probably identify more as a Democrat.”
Trump, a billionaire real-estate developer who is leading in GOP polls, regularly makes fun of Bush on the campaign trail. This week, Trump’s campaign released a video showing a TV clip of Bush saying many immigrants from Mexico cross the U.S. border illegally as an “act of love.” Bush meant that such immigrants are seeking jobs and a better life for their families. But Trump juxtaposed these remarks with references to cases where illegal immigrants have committed horrible crimes. “Love?” the video concluded. “Forget love. It’s time to get tough.”
Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush, told reporters, “While Donald Trump was still supporting liberal soft-on-crime politicians, Jeb Bush accumulated an eight-year record of cracking down on violent criminals as governor of Florida.”
Bush has been fading in polls for the Republican presidential nomination. The latest PPP survey indicates that Trump has the support of 29 percent of Republicans nationwide. Retired surgeon Ben Carson has 15 percent and Bush has 9.
Up to now, Bush has been reluctant to trade insults and barbs with Trump. But that’s changed.
Campaigning in Miami, Bush told reporters, “All we did today was to put in his own words that this man is not a conservative. He’s backed [former Democratic House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi. He’s given money to Hillary Clinton [who is now the Democratic presidential front-runner] … If you look at his record and what he believes, he supports Democrats.”
Bush also said Trump throws insults rather than discussing issues. “He personalizes everything,” Bush noted. “If you’re not totally in agreement with him, you’re an idiot, you’re stupid, you have no energy, blah, blah, blah. That’s what he does.”
In reply, Trump turned again to mockery. “Yet another weak hit by a candidate with a failing campaign,” Trump tweeted.
Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, who also has been fading in the polls, jumped on Bush for not pledging to terminate President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran immediately if Bush wins the White House. In a campaign video, Walker’s organization said Bush is one of the Republicans “who don’t know what they stand for” regarding the Iran agreement, which Walker opposes.
Walker also told Fox News Tuesday, “If you know it’s a bad deal, why would you wait [to terminate it] a month, or six months, or even a week or two?”
Bush, in a separate interview with Fox News, said Tuesday, “What I said was that we need a strategy. Tearing up an agreement is not a strategy. The strategy needs to contain Iran’s ambitions in the region. … What I’m saying is on Day One, I’ll have a strategy. And that strategy will be to protect us against what could become the most significant threat that exists in the world.”