Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took shot after shot at real estate billionaire Donald Trump during Tuesday night’s GOP debate, calling the Republican front-runner an ‘unserious’ candidate who would be ‘a chaos president’ – but brought back a boomerang of insults and passive-aggressive jabs from The Donald.
During the Las Vegas slugfest, Trump complained that CNN‘s hosts focused inordinately on inviting his rivals to attack him ‘for ratings’.
‘You think this is tough and you’re not being treated fairly? Imagine what it’s going to be like dealing with [Vladimir] Putin, or dealing with President Xi [of China], or dealing with the Islamic terrorism that exists,’ he blasted Trump.
‘This isn’t tough at all,’ the high-polling tycoon responded with a frown. ‘I wish it was always as easy as you, Jeb.’
‘This is a tough business, to run for president,’ the earnest Bush continued, ‘and we need a leader who’s principled – you’re never going to be President of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.’
‘Oh, I know, you’re a tough guy, Jeb,’ Trump mocked as an audience of 1,400 at The Venetian hotel fidgeted. ‘You’re real tough, Jeb.’
‘Let’s see: I’m at 42 [per cent] and you’re at three, so so far I’m doing better,’ Trump said, citing recent national polls of Republican voters.
Trump poked fun at Bush, who began the primary campaign cycle as an establishment favorite -occupying a debate podium near the middle of the stage – only to drift to the margins as his numbers grew more and more dismal.
‘You know, you started off over here, Jeb,’ Trump said, motioning to his center-stage position. ‘You’re moving over further and further. Pretty soon you’re going to be off the end.’
After the bruising Republican debate in Las Vegas last night, Trump’s wife Melania and two sons, Eric and Donald Jnr, wasted no time in congratulating the billionaire on his ‘very strong’ performance.
They joined him backstage in the spin room at the Venetian Hotel & Casino and later tweeted their support for the controversial front-runner.
Donald Trump Jnr posted a picture of the media scrum, saying: ‘The spin room post-debate mob scene after a very strong debate from @realdonaldtrump.’
Eric retweeted a post that said: ‘The highlight of the debate was Jeb (Bush’s) attempt at getting tough with Trump. Trump swatted him like a fly.’
Among the other issues raised during last night’s debate:
- Donald Trump and Ben Carson both committed their futures to the Republican Party
- Carson said his commitment depended on there being no brokered convention
- Trump claimed he had gained ‘tremendous respect for the Republican leadership
- Senator Lindsey Graham said he is not afraid of ‘shirtless’ Vladimir Putin
- Graham added that ISIS is a result of President Obama’s failed policies, not George W Bush’s
- He added that ISIS would be dancing in the street if Donald Trump banned Muslims
Carly FIorina, a former computer executive, was heard off-camera shouting about the hardscrabble verbal fusillades: ‘This doesn’t do a thing to solve the problem! This doesn’t do a thing to solve the problem!’
Trump, whose world-beating numbers are crushing Bush’s by a factor of more than ten, had showed uncharacteristic restraint earlier in the evening.
He brushed off Bush’s opening salvo, a complaint about his call for a moratorium on non-American Muslims entering the United States in the wake of deadly Islamist terror attacks, as a product of political desperation – never raising his voice.
‘This is not a serious proposal,’ Bush said of Trump’s policy prescription after debate moderator Wolf Blitzer asked him to justify calling Trump ‘unhinged’ when he first articulated his controversial idea.
Read more: Daily Mail