Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump dismissed establishment favorite Jeb Bush as unelectable and ”low-energy” Wednesday, while the former governor labeled his rival a tax-hiking Democrat in a war of words played out at dueling town halls.
Trump, a billionaire businessman, leads the crowded pack of 17 Republicans vying for the Republican nomination ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
Meanwhile, Bush, the son of one former president and brother of another, remains the favorite of establishment donors but has so far failed to generate much enthusiasm among the party’s base.
In Derry on Wednesday, Trump drew a capacity crowd to a high school auditorium of almost 1,000, complete with overflow rooms. He started his criticism of Bush in a briefing with reporters and continued in the town hall.
”I don’t see how he’s electable,” Trump told reporters ahead of the town hall, later describing Bush as a ”low-energy person” who has trouble getting things done.
”Right down the road, we have Jeb,” Trump said early in the town hall, drawing boos from an auditorium packed with enthusiastic supporters. Trump mocked Bush for going ”down like a rock” in early polls in the state.
In nearby Merrimack meanwhile, Bush portrayed the billionaire businessman as a tax hike-promoting Democrat that voters would eventually tire of.
”I think what people are eventually going to vote for is a proven conservative leader that’s done it,” Bush said in a video of the event released by his campaign.
He went on to criticize Trump for his past contributions to Democrats, as well as his changing positions on issues.
”He’s won over a lot of people. People are very angry about how Washington’s not working. He’s tapped into that,” said Bush. ”But when people look at his record, it is not a conservative record”
Trump and Bush have been clashing frequently over their stances on issues, including immigration, in recent weeks.
Bush’s wife was born in Mexico and he has said in the past that people entering the country illegally do so as an ”act of love” for their families.
Trump, who is calling for the mass deportation of people who have entered the country illegally and the building of a giant wall on the border, has mocked such rhetoric. Trump also bragged about the wall he plans to build along the Mexican border, saying it would look good as well as keep people out.
Bush, meanwhile, criticized Trump’s immigration platform, arguing that it’s ”not a conservative plan” because it would cost tens of billions of dollars to carry out.