Jeb Bush would support Donald Trump if the real-estate billionaire were to win the Republican presidential nomination, “because anybody is better than Hillary Clinton”.
The former Florida governor thinks that outcome unlikely, however, because the more voters hear of Trump, particularly on foreign policy, “the less likely he’s going to get the Republican nomination”.
Bush, who trails Trump by some distance in polls regarding the sizeable Republican field, was speaking to CBS in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday morning, excerpts of which were published by Politico. Though Trump’s lead fell by 12 points in one recent poll , he has surfed a number of controversies over comments made on the campaign trail to maintain a healthy advantage.
Before his run-in with the New York Times this week, over his appearing to mimic a reporter’s disability during a campaign speech, Trump caused uproar when he appeared to agree with a suggestion that all Muslims in the US should be registered and mosques closed.
He has also repeatedly insisted that Muslims in New Jersey were seen to celebrate the 9/11 attacks – a claim refuted by Jersey residents , fact checkers, the New York Times reporter and police.
On Saturday, at a rally in Sarasota , Florida, he widened his approach to the subject, saying: “Worldwide, the Muslims were absolutely going wild.”
“Look, I just think he’s uninformed,” Bush told CBS. “He knows what he’s saying. He’s smart. He’s playing you guys like a fiddle – the press – by saying outrageous things and garnering attention. That’s his strategy, is to dominate the news.”
The entire Republican field has grappled with the issue of security and the correct attitude to refugees from the Syrian civil war, particularly in the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris this month that killed 130 and injured hundreds more and were claimed by Islamic State militants.
Their responses have prompted extensive criticism for alleged Islamophobia. This weekend Ben Carson, who compared Syrian refugees to “rabid dogs”, was in Jordan visiting a refugee camp. In a statement from his campaign, he said the US should not take in any of the people he met .
Bush, like Texas senator Ted Cruz and Florida senator Marco Rubio, has called for Christian refugees to be given priority concerning entry to the US, a position which President Obama called “shameful” .
“We do not have religious tests for our compassion,” the president said.
Speaking to CBS, Bush said of Trump: “The simple fact is that he’s been wrong on Syria and on the refugees pretty consistently. And no one’s holding him to account.”
Asked if he would support Trump for the presidency if he won the primary contest which begins in Iowa on 1 February, Bush said: “Look, I’ve said … because anybody is better than Hillary Clinton. Let me just be clear about that.
“But I have great doubts about Donald Trump’s ability to be commander-in-chief … I’ll let the voters decide about Donald Trump. I’m pretty confident that the more they hear of him, the less likely he’s going to get the Republican nomination.”
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