Still a blip in many early primary state polls, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has repeatedly sought to cast himself as the “adult” in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, trashing rival Donald Trump as a candidate who makes over-the-top promises to voters that he can’t keep.
So it was no surprise the two clashed early in Tuesday night’s debate over Trump’s immigration proposal. The New York real estate magnate repeated his stance that all illegal immigrants should be shipped back to their countries of origin and a border wall should be built.
Sensing an opening, Kasich lashed out at Trump, insisting the businessman’s proposal “makes no sense.” “Come on, folks,” Kasich said. “We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across, back across the border. It is a silly argument. It is not an adult argument.”
Trump shot back, “All I can say is, you’re lucky in Ohio that you struck oil.” He then praised a deportation plan implemented by Pres. Dwight Eisenhower and claimed that more than a million illegal immigrants were successfully returned to Mexico. The name of the program, which Trump did not mention, was “Operation Wetback.”
As the moderator turned to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Kasich interrupted, refusing to let Trump have the last word. As Bush quibbled with Kasich, Trump dismissed the Ohio governor again. “You should let Jeb speak.”
When Bush finally got his chance at the mike, he sarcastically thanked Trump for allowing him to talk. “Really nice of you,” he said. “I appreciate that.”
And then, he piled on Trump’s immigration proposal too. “Sending 11 million people back is not possible, and it’s not embracing American values,” Bush said. “Even having this conversation sends a powerful signal. They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign over this.”
Indeed, a few seconds later, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Clinton, tweeted, “We actually are doing high-fives right now.”