Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush took a dig at businessman Donald Trump’s warm feelings toward Vladimir Putin during Saturday night’s presidential debate, sparking an argument that ranged from the Iraq War to the makeup of the debate audience.
“Donald Trump brought up the fact that he would want to accommodate Russia,” Bush said, before criticizing Russia’s lack of effort against the so-called Islamic State. “It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that Russia could be a positive partner in this.”
“Let me just tell you this. Jeb is so wrong,” Trump said, before working in a jab at the audience who booed the comment.
“You know what that is? That’s Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists talking,” he said. After garnering a second round of boos for a jab at Lindsay Graham’s poll numbers, he added, “I only tell the truth, lobbyists.”
Trump and Bush later scuffled again over President George W. Bush’s foreign policy.
“Obviously the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake, all right?” Trump said, arguing that Jeb Bush took too long to reach the same conclusion.
“Obviously, it was a mistake. George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes, but that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq.”
“Frankly, I could care less about the insults that Donald Trump gives to me,” Bush replied. “It’s blood sport for him. He enjoys it, and I’m glad he’s happy about it. He continued, “I’m sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind.”
The audience again audibly sided with Bush, marking just the latest in a series of debate moments where Trump has incurred the hostility of attendees.
At a rally in Manchester, N.H. on Monday, Trump told the crowd that the attendees are often well-connected people who can get tickets from the campaigns, such as lobbyists and deep-pocketed donors. Trump said that since he doesn’t rely on these people, he doesn’t always have the same base of support in the audience.
As CNN’s Brian Stelter notes, he has something of a point:
Editor’s note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.