Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said Wednesday that President Barack Obama is to blame for Donald Trump’s dominance of the 2016 Republican presidential race.
“I would argue that Donald Trump is in fact a creature of Barack Obama,” Bush said in an NPR radio interview published Thursday. “But for Barack Obama, Donald Trump’s effect would not be nearly as strong as it is. “
Bush, a Trump rival in the GOP primary, contended that the billionaire businessman was taking advantage of political polarization made more stark by Obama’s administration.
“We’re living in a divided country right now and we need political leaders rather than continuing to divide us — as both President Obama and Donald Trump do — to unite us,” he said.
The former Florida governor has sagged in the polls as Trump has surged to the top of the field. But Bush, whose comeback plan involves attacking the front-runner, argued to NPR’s Steve Inskeep that Trump cannot win if Republican voters look for a candidate who could win the general election.
“We’re not going to win by insulting our way to the presidency. You cannot disparage women, people with disabilities, Mexican-Americans, POWs, Muslims,” Bush said, referencing Trump’s various campaign-trail firestorms. “It’s not a strategy for victory. It’s a strategy to maintain this divisive kind of culture we’re in right now.”
Bush also blasted Trump’s plan to temporarily bar all Muslim tourists and immigrants from entering the US.
“Clearly, banning all Muslims would actually be so counterproductive in our efforts to destroy ISIS that it’s foolhardy,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State terror group. “I mean, it’s beyond ridiculous. It’s quite dangerous.”
Not stopping there, Bush went on to say that Trump, a former reality-television star, was taking advantage of “this reality-TV kind of political environment.” But he also suggested that Obama’s policies — or lack thereof — had left the public “scared” of terrorists striking the US.
“Are people scared about the national-security interests of our country being violated because of a lax immigration system, or a visa-waiver program that wasn’t designed for people being radicalized? Yeah, they’re scared,” Bush stated. “And the job of a president — or a candidate, for that matter — isn’t to scare more. It’s to give them solutions, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
For his part, Trump has continued to hammer back at Bush on the campaign trail and on Twitter. Among other Twitter-barbs thrown at Bush on Thursday morning, Trump wrote that he would feel “sorry” for Bush, but he felt compelled to respond to Bush’s attacks.
Trump also tweeted an image at Bush that depicted Trump saying that he does not “support Islam” or “amnesty”:
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