The most recent GOP debate looked much like the first one, as Jeb Bush tried to prove his toughness against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and found himself on the receiving end of Trump’s savage verbal attacks.
Early in the debate, Bush reaffirmed Trump was “unhinged” because of his proposal to ban Muslim immigration to the United States.
Trump responded: “Jeb doesn’t really believe I’m unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign, it’s been a total disaster. No one cares.”
His remarks were greeted by initial laughter from the crowd followed by boos from Bush supporters as Bush smiled awkwardly.
Trump continued: “I’m the most solid person up here. I built a tremendous company and all I want to do is make America great again.”
Bush fired back that Trump’s proposal was not serious. But it wasn’t the last time the two would clash.
After a question from a person on Facebook about Trump’s remarks about punishing or even killing the families of terrorists, Trump didn’t back down.
“We have to be much tougher, much stronger than we’ve been,” said Trump. “We have people who knew what was going on… I would be very, very firm with families.”
When Jeb Bush called Trump’s remarks “troubling,” Trump pivoted to immigration, slamming Jeb Bush’s characterization of illegal immigration as “an act of love.”
Jeb tried to interrupt Trump, frustrating the Donald. Jeb then joked he had given Trump a taste of his own medicine.
“I know you’re trying to build up your energy Jeb, but it’s not working very well,” Trump fired back, as the crowd laughed.
“We need a toughness,” he continued. “We need strength. We’re not respected as a nation anymore. We don’t have that level of respect that we need. And if we don’t get it back fast, we’re just going to grow weaker, weaker, and then disintegrate. We can’t allow that to happen. We need strength. And we don’t have it.”
Turning his attention to a clearly angry Jeb, Trump said: “When Jeb comes out and he talks about the border…he’s saying the same thing right now with radical Islam. And we can’t have that in our country. It just won’t work. We need strength.”
Bush won a large amount of applause when he replied: “Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen.”
He then called for increasing military spending, putting a no-fly zone and safe zone in Syria, and building a military that is “second to none.”
Trump, anxious to get the last word, took opportunity of a brief silence after Bush was finished to remark, “With Jeb’s attitude, we will never be great again, that I can tell you.”
And it wasn’t the last exchange. Later, Jeb again tried out his line about Trump not being able to “insult his way to the presidency.”
Trump scoffed, “I’m at 42 percent Jeb. You’re at 3 percent.”
Noting Jeb Bush’s slow retreat from the center to the margins over the course of the presidential debates, Trump commented brutally, “Pretty soon you’re going to be off the end [of the stage].”
The debate comes as American is fewer than 50 days away from the first 2015 presidential election season votes.
The word fight in Las Vegas came as billionaire business tycoon Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were jockeying for the lead.
Going into the CNN debate, Cruz and Trump were locked in a two-man race in Iowa. Cruz was up 31 percent to Trump’s 21 percent among likely Republican caucus-goers, according to a Bloomberg Politics-Des Moines Register poll published Saturday. Another Iowa poll conducted Dec. 7-10 by Loras College had Cruz leading Trump by 29.7 percent to 23.4 percent on Tuesday.
But nationally, Cruz is still lagging far behind Trump, who hit a new high of 41 percent in a Monmouth University poll conducted Dec. 10-13. In that poll, Cruz landed at just 14 percent.
In yet another national poll by ABC News and the Washington Post, Trump trounced Cruz by 23 points. Trump’s surge came after the GOP front-runner proposed a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. until Congress can get a handle on the issue of terror.