- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Thursday that the rise of party front-runner Donald Trump can be blamed on President Obama’s politically divisive time in office.

“I would argue that Donald Trump is in fact a creature of Barack Obama,” Mr. Bush said Thursday morning in an interview on NPR’s “Morning Edition.” “But for Barack Obama, Donald Trump’s effect would not be nearly as strong as it is.”

“We’re living in a divided country right now, and we need political leaders, rather that continuing to divide as both President Obama and Donald Trump, to unite us,” the former Florida governor said.

Mr. Bush said he disagreed with Mr. Obama’s belief that Mr. Trump is “exploiting” blue-collar workers and their anxieties to manifest as xenophobia and intolerance, an opinion the president expressed in an earlier interview with NPR this month.

The president has “this notion of what blue-collared, white voters kind of think that’s so out of touch,” he said. “People are legitimately angry with Washington, D.C. And yes, Mr. President, they’re legitimately angry with you. You have divided the country up in all sorts of disparate parts.”

Such divisions have allowed candidates like Mr. Trump to soar in the polls, he said, but allowing candidates like the bombastic businessman to be the front-runner and face of the party would doom a party that needs to “realize our demography as a nation is changing.”

With the American population grappling with big issues such as immigration and national security, Mr. Trump is using fear as a method of scaring people into voting for him, Mr. Bush said.

“Are people scared about the national security interests of our country being violated because of a lax immigration system or a visa waiver program that wasn’t designed for people being radicalized?” Mr. Bush said. “Yes, they’re scared, and the job of a president — or a candidate, for that matter — isn’t to scare them more. It’s to give them solutions, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

That fear has led to proposals from Mr. Trump such as halting Muslim immigration to the country altogether — but Mr. Bush said that when voters actually go to cast their ballots, they will not be supporting such plans.

“In a month from now they won’t [agree],” Mr. Bush said. “That’s the point. The point is that we’re living in this reality TV political environment where [Mr. Trump] fills the space by saying outrageous things.”

Banning Muslim immigrants from the country altogether has been scrutinized for being unconstitutional and lacking compassion for what refugees in the Middle East are experiencing, and such attacks on the plan would make it unfeasible, Mr. Bush said.

“People, based on their emotions, will express support for the sentiment, not necessarily the specifics, because there are none and then he’ll backtrack,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s plan to prevent any Muslim from immigrating to the United States would be so “counterproductive in our efforts to destroy [the Islamic State] that it’s foolhardy,” Mr. Bush said.

“I mean, it’s beyond ridiculous,” he said. “It’s quite dangerous.”

• Anjali Shastry can be reached at ashastry@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide