- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Wednesday that Donald Trump is the Republican front-runner in the race for the White House, that he should be held to account for his proposals, and that he’s “appealing to people’s angst and their anger.”

At a town hall meeting in Florida, Mr. Bush said the local leaders he recently met with in Texas said building a wall in that region of the country, as Mr. Trump has called for, isn’t workable.

“I’m running for the presidency in the conservative party, which means I don’t think we should spend hundreds of billions of dollars with an impractical solution,” Mr. Bush said. “This guy is now the front-runner — he should be held to account just like me. He should be asked, as he was yesterday, ‘how you gonna pay for it?’ … Explain how you’re gonna stop all the remittances without violating people’s civil liberties.”

“Go through these questions and what you’ll find is this guy doesn’t have a plan,” Mr. Bush said. “He’s appealing to people’s angst and their anger. I want to solve problems so that we can fix this and turn immigration into what it’s always been — an economic driver for our country.

“But today it’s not,” he said to applause.

One questioner started by saying he was going to talk to Mr. Bush in “the Mexican language.”

“Mexican? I don’t even know what language that is, I heard someone brought it up,” Mr. Bush said. “What’s up with this…Mexican?”

Earlier in the week, Mr. Trump had shared a tweet that read: “So true. Jeb Bush is crazy, who cares that he speaks Mexican, this is America, English !!”

“Do we have to talk about this guy?” Mr. Bush said to laughter at one point.

Mr. Bush has been a frequent target of Mr. Trump, with the billionaire businessman repeatedly knocking Mr. Bush as “low-energy.”

“We need leadership in Washington, D.C. - high energy leadership,” Mr. Bush said at one point Wednesday.

Mr. Bush also talked about his recent visit to the city of McAllen, Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border where he met with local leaders.

“The first thing they told me was — before I asked, they said you can’t build a wall and solve this problem in our part of the country,” he said. “The terrain is too rugged, [you’d] have American citizens on the other side of the wall, you couldn’t access the river, which is part of the economic driver of the community. It’s an agricultural community — they need to have access to the water.”

“It is not feasible to build a wall as the sole solution,” he said. “It’s a simple thing to say, and I’m sure it’s great for…our friends in the press to just simplify the thing down to that, but it’s not practical and it’s not conservative.”

“What about China?” someone asked. “China built a giant wall.”

“Oh yeah — 600 years ago,” Mr. Bush quipped. “I’m [telling] you what they say on the border. Not in Pensacola, because we don’t have a border problem here. I’m talking about the people that are on the ground, what they say — it’s not feasible and it would tear apart their community, [it] would hurt their economic activity and it’s not needed. Because there’s better ways to deal with this.”

“I’m gonna give it to you right now, man,” Mr. Bush said as someone kept talking. “You ready? You listenin’?”

“Go get ‘em,” someone else said.

Mr. Bush went on to call for providing more support to local law enforcement, pushing the border patrol to the border, using drone and GPS technology to be able to surge to places where there are weaknesses, dealing with the 40 percent of illegal immigrants that come with a legal visa and overstay by using biometrics, and eliminating the notion of sanctuary cities.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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