Republican U.S. presidential candidate and former Governor Jeb Bush (L) speaks as Senator Ted Cruz looks on at the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTX26TM4 (Reuters)

Jeb! attempts to defend Bush family legacy during GOP debate: "While Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a national security apparatus to keep us safe"

Jeb tried to get snappy with Trump and The Donald hit back by, again, blaming Jeb's brother, W, for 9/11


Sophia Tesfaye
February 14, 2016 9:42AM (UTC)

It's almost unreal.

It is in the Republican presidential primary, not the Democratic primary, where candidates in 2016 are vigorously debating if former president George W. Bush is to blame for failing to prevent the attacks on 9/11 and whether he should have been impeached for lying about WMDs.

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Donald Trump has effectively hung the albatross of 9/11 and the Iraq War on rival Jeb Bush's neck throughout this presidential campaign cycle and on Saturday, the billionaire frontrunner attempted to deliver the knock out punch with a blistering assault during the GOP debate.

Bush provoked the attack, apparently feeling saucy after receiving widespread praise for his more assertive debate performance last weekend.

"While Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a national security apparatus to keep us safe," Bush snarked, critiquing Trump's scorched earth campaign.

To loud boos from the South Carolina audience, Trump shot back that “the World Trade Center came down” because W “didn’t listen to the advice of the CIA.”

“Jeb is absolutely so wrong,” Trump retorted. “That’s Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists talking.”

“How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center came down? That is not safe," Trump continued.

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Trump has hounded Bush over his brother's legacy for months now. Still, John Kasich, who said he was "sick of the negative campaigning," had to jump into the fray to save Bush from Trump's deluge.

"This is just crazy. This is just nuts. Jeez, oh man," Kasich commented, trying to play up his Midwestern moderate image.

Marco Rubio also chimed in with an assist for Jeb: “Thank God that it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore.”

Clearly scarred by his tussle with The Donald, Bush later alluded to "you know who," refusing to even name Trump explicitly during round two of their battle over what Bush called Trump's "disparaging" comments about Mexican immigrants and women.

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Watch Jeb Bush defend his brother against Donald Trump:
[jwplayer file="http://media.salon.com/2016/02/trumpbush.patricewaite.2.13.2016.mp4" image="http://media.salon.com/2016/02/RTX26TO2.jpg"][/jwplayer]


Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's Deputy Politics Editor and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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