At a rally in South Carolina on Monday, former President George W. Bush subtly fired back at real estate tycoon Donald J. Trump, who attacked the former president for not “keeping us safe” in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
These are tough times, and I understand that Americans are angry and frustrated — but we do not need someone in the Oval Office who mirrors and inflames our anger and frustration.
Bush implied that Trump is unfit for the job in temperament as well. “The presidency is a serious job that requires sound judgment and good ideas, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Jeb Bush has the experience and the character to be a good president,” the former president declared. He added that “we need someone who can take a positive message across the entire country, someone who can inspire and appeal to people from all walks of life — not just one party or one class of people.”
In this declaration, George W. Bush did something his brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, has struggled to accomplish — stand up firmly for his principles. Jeb Bush hit Trump hard in the Republican presidential debate on Saturday evening, but his attack was essentially personal — “do what you want to me, but don’t go after my family!” George Bush on Monday had a stronger, more presidential tone. He looked straight into the camera and declared of his brother, “He will stand on principle, he will not waver in the wind, and he will always do what’s right for American people!” That’s what a president sounds like.
In Saturday’s debate, by contrast, Trump went so far as to declare that former President Bush knew America would be attacked on 9/11, but did nothing to stop it. He also claimed that Bush knew there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq but lied to the American people to start a war in the Middle East. Bush’s response did not address these outlandish claims, but hit Trump subtly, by implying he is unfit to be president.
Unfortunately for Trump, this attack might prove quite telling in South Carolina’s primary this Saturday, February 20. While former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is polling only around 10 percent in South Carolina, his brother George W. ranks as the most popular Republican in the Palmetto State. A December 2015 poll found the former president had an 84 percent approval rating among the state’s Republicans.