- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Wednesday said front-runner Donald Trump’s comments about Muslim Americans cheering as the World Trade Center towers fell on September 11 showed that the billionaire businessman isn’t a “serious” candidate.

Mr. Bush, whose political pedigree and formidable fundraising machine hasn’t helped him cut into Mr. Trump’s lead or break out of single digits in the polls, said voters would eventually have to decide if Mr. Trump is ready to “sit behind the big desk.”

“There wasn’t thousands and thousands of people cheering. That’s just not true,” the former Florida governor said in an interview on Fox News. “This county was under attacks and people were angry and they were in mourning but there was no cheering.”

He blasted Mr. Trump for disrespecting 9/11 victims by creating an “alternative universe.”

Mr. Trump has refused to back down from his claim that he saw thousands of people cheering in Jersey City, N.J., when the twin towers collapsed, despite several fact-checking organizations refuting his version of events.

After the 9/11 attacks there were several news reports about police investigations into celebrations in Jersey City and nearby Paterson. But no evidence was found that the celebrations actually took place, according to PolitiFact, the online fact-checking project by the Tampa Bay Times.

“Look, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. As it relates to Islamic terrorism, [he’s] gone from saying we don’t have a fight there, let Russia take out ISIS, let Russia take out [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] and now his strategy is to bomb the bleep out of ISIS,” Mr. Bush said, referring to an acronym for the Islamic State terrorist group. “That’s not a strategy. That’s not leadership. That’s not a serious approach to a hugely serious problem.”

Mr. Bush has advocating deploying U.S. troops into Iraq to fight the Islamic State and bolstering Syrian rebels to fight the Assad regime in Syria. He also proposed creating no-fly zones and safety zones to protect Syrian refugees.

He said that American voters would eventually have to make a decision about Mr. Trump’s qualifications to be president.

“They want someone who can sit behind the big desk with a spine and with a heart and with a brain to be able to lead the country in a much better direction than we’re going now,” Mr. Bush said. “I believe that I’m that guy.”

The Real Clear Politics average of recent national polls showed Mr. Bush mired in fifth place with 5 percent among likely Republican voters. Mr. Trump led with 27 percent, followed by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 19 percent, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 12 percent and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 11 percent.

The rest of the candidates scored low single digits in the polling average.

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