Although Jeb Bush has been railing against Donald Trump all week, he still had more to say on Saturday, uttering perhaps his strongest comments yet about the Republican presidential front-runner.
“Just one other thing — I gotta get this off my chest — Donald Trump is a jerk,” Bush said to laughter and applause at his town hall Contoocook, New Hampshire.
The outburst came after a man who said he had Asperger’s Syndrome asked the former Florida governor how he would help people with disabilities as president.
Bush talked about the work he did in Florida with the state legislature to obtain more money for the state’s disability system. Just when it appeared he was done with his answer, Bush started his rant against his GOP rival.
“You cannot insult your way to the presidency,” he said, reiterating an attack line he’s been firing at Trump. “You can’t disparage women, Hispanics, disabled people. Who is he kidding?”
Trump took on widespread criticism when he appeared to mock a New York Times reporter with a disability last month, though Trump denied he was doing so.
The two candidates have been sparring all week after Bush started executing a new strategy of directly confronting Trump at the CNN debate in Las Vegas on Tuesday. They continued trading shots throughout the week, with Trump calling Bush “dumb as a rock” on Twitter Friday and getting in some fresh insults Saturday while campaigning in Iowa.
Continuing to dig in, Bush said in Contoocook that it’s “deeply discouraging” that Trump is “actually running for president and insulting people.”
“We should reject that out of hand. And I hope you’re going to reject it by voting for me,” he told the audience. “But a guy like that should not be the front-running candidate of our great party. That is not how we win.”
After more applause, Bush added: “I feel better now. I gave myself therapy there. Thank you for allowing me to do it.”
Bush continued his attacks later at town hall in Exeter, New Hampshire, saying Trump “doesn’t have much intellectual curiosity.”
“I don’t think Donald Trump knows the Kurdish people are Muslim. That wouldn’t be one of those things that naturally comes to him,” Bush said. “He doesn’t have much intellectual curiosity. It means the Kurds we’re asking to fight the fight (against ISIS) wouldn’t be allowed to come into the country.”
Bush’s jabs come the same day that the super PAC supporting his White House bid, Right to Rise, released a new TV ad hitting Trump.
The ad is almost identical to a web video released by the campaign earlier this week spotlighting Bush’s attacks in the debate against Trump over past statements that he’s made.
Later Saturday, Trump continued his attacks on Bush during a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, calling him “incompetent” and “terrible.”
“It was so sad to watch him (at Tuesday’s debate),” he said.
Trump later said he’s not looking for Bush’s approval.
“I don’t want Jeb Bush’s endorsement. It doesn’t mean anything. He’s not tough. He’s not smart,” he said. “I want endorsements from the absolute best.”