Jeb Bush escalated his ongoing war of words against Donald Trump, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the Republican frontrunner and former “Celebrity Apprentice” star is approaching foreign policy like he’s still on a reality show.
“He’s not taking the responsibility, the possibility of being president of the United States really seriously,” Bush said in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper. “For him, it looks as though he’s an actor playing a role of the candidate for president. Not boning up on the issues, not having a broad sense of the responsibilities of what it is to be a president.”
The former Florida governor’s comments came just hours after his campaign released an attack ad mocking Trump’s admission that he gets his foreign policy advice from cable news shows and warning voters that the brash-talking real estate mogul would have control of 4,650 nuclear warheads if he became commander in chief.
On CNN, Bush was asked if he has confidence in Trump’s ability to handle that kind of responsibility.
“I have grave doubts, to be honest with you,” Bush said.
He pointed to Trump’s ideas on handling the crisis in Syria by allowing Islamic State militants in the region to remove President Bashar Assad from power and having Russia fight the terror group as proof the leading candidate for the Republican nomination is not ready for prime time.
“Across the spectrum of foreign policy, Mr. Trump talks about things as though he’s still on ‘The Apprentice,’” Bush said. “I mean, literally, talking about Syria, saying ISIS should take out Assad, then Russia should take out ISIS, as though it was some kind of board game, and not a serious approach.”
“This is just another example of the lack of seriousness,” Bush added. “And this is a serious time. We’re under grave threats again, and I think we need a president with a steady hand.”
Trump and Bush don’t see eye to eye on 9/11. (Photos: AP/Reuters)
On Friday, Trump suggested President George W. Bush deserved some of the blame for the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks because they happened on his watch.
“When you talk about George Bush — I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump told Bloomberg Television. “He was president, OK? Blame him or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.”
“Jeb, why did your brother attack and [destabilize] the Middle East by attacking Iraq when there were no weapons of mass destruction?” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Bad info?”
On “Fox News Sunday,” Trump even suggested 9/11 would not have happened if he had been president.
“I would have been much different, I must tell you. Somebody said, ‘Well, it wouldn’t have been any different.’ Well, it would have been,” Trump said. “I am extremely, extremely tough on illegal immigration. I’m extremely tough on people coming into this country. I believe that if I were running things … I doubt that those [terrorists] would have been in the country. So there’s a good chance that those people would not have been in our country.”
Trump added: “I’m not blaming George Bush. But I don’t want Jeb Bush to say my brother kept us safe because September 11th was one of the worst days in the history of this country.”
"My brother responded to a crisis,” Jeb Bush responded Sunday, “and he did it as you would hope a president would do. He united the country, he organized our country and he kept us safe. And there’s no denying that. The great majority of Americans believe that.”
“Jeb Bush should stop trying to defend his brother and focus on his own shortcomings and how to fix them,” Trump later tweeted.
Jeb, though, said his defense of George W. has nothing to do with their familial ties.
“I mean, so next week, Mr. Trump is probably going to say that FDR was around when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor,” he said. “It’s what you do after that matters. And that’s the sign of leadership. You don’t have to have your last name named Bush to be able to understand that.”
Bush’s willingness to attack Trump, though, may be born out of necessity.
According to a Fox News national poll released last week, Bush (8 percent) ranks fifth in a still-crowded Republican field, trailing Trump (23 percent) by 15 points in the race for the GOP nomination.
Nonetheless, Bush doesn’t believe Trump will make it through the primaries.
“I don’t think Trump is going to win the nomination,” Bush said on CNN. “I think we’re going to have a nominee that will unite the party and win the presidency.”