Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump said Sunday that he would have kept the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers out of the U.S. and, therefore, would have prevented the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.
Mr. Trump’s comments on “Fox News Sunday” come just two days after he seemed to blame former President George W. Bush for the attacks, though he now denies he was specifically blaming anyone.
His words drew a harsh rebuke from GOP nomination rival Jeb Bush and others, but Mr. Trump is sticking to his guns and making the case that, unlike the Bush administration, he could have stopped Sept. 11.
“I am extremely tough on illegal immigration. I’m extremely tough on people coming into this country. I believe if I were running things, I doubt those people would’ve been in the country,” the real estate mogul said. “So there’s a good chance that those people would have been in our country.
“With that said, I’m not blaming George W. Bush. But I don’t want [former Florida Gov.] Jeb Bush to say, ‘Our brother kept us safe,’ because Sept. 11 is one of the worst days in the history of the country.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who trails Mr. Trump in GOP presidential primary polls but has made significant gains in recent weeks, said Sunday that he doesn’t believe Mr. Trump is trying to blame the former president for the Sept. 11 attacks.
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“I would probably ask him what he meant by that. I seriously doubt that he’s saying that George W. Bush is to blame for it,” Mr. Carson said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I certainly don’t think so.”
In an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Jeb Bush shot back, saying said Mr. Trump — a former reality TV star — lacks “credibility” on foreign policy.
“I don’t know why he keeps bringing this up. It doesn’t show that he’s a serious person as it related to being commander in chief,” Mr. Bush said. “It just calls into question Mr. Trump’s credibility as commander in chief … he’s an actor playing a role of candidate for president.”