Republican heavyweights Donald Trump and Jeb Bush sparred in an early GOP presidential debate exchange Wednesday night.
Bush, whose campaign hinted he was planning to go on the attack against the real-estate magnate, began the back-and-forth by hitting Trump. Bush, the former Florida governor, said Trump had tried to lobby him to open Florida to casino gambling.
“The one guy that had some special interest that I know of — that tried to get me my views on something, that was generous and gave me money — was Donald Trump. He wanted casino gambling in Florida,” Bush said.
Trump interjected, saying that was “totally false.”
“Yes you did. You wanted it and you didn’t get it because I was opposed to casino gambling before, during, and after!” Bush shot back.
“I promise, if I wanted it, I would have gotten it,” Trump responded.
“Nope,” Bush said.
Trump went on to attack Bush and other candidates’ supposed deference to lobbyists and special interests.
“The donors, the special interest, the lobbyists have very strong power over these people. … They have a lot of control over our politicians. And I don’t say that favourably,” he said.
Bush hit back by noting Trump’s donations to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for president. Trump has explained away those donations by saying he frequently gave money to politicians as a businessman to earn their favour.
“According to what you said on one of the talk shows, you got Hillary Clinton to go to your wedding because you gave her money. Maybe it works for Hillary Clinton but it doesn’t work for anybody no this stage,” Bush said.
Trump said his job as a businessman was to “get along with people” — but Bush wouldn’t let him finish.
“No,” Bush said.
Trump, who frequently bashes Bush for being a “low-energy” candidate, ended the exchange with a zinger.
“More energy tonight, I like that!” Trump said.
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