The Republican presidential candidates faced off in their fifth and final debate of the year Tuesday night at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
With the Iowa caucuses just seven weeks away, Jeb Bush tried to take down fallen front-runner Donald Trump once and for all, repeatedly declaring that the billionaire businessman is not a “serious candidate.”
Their first clash of the night came after Trump defended his widely panned proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.
“Our country is out of control,” he began. “People are pouring across the southern border. I’ll build a wall … People will not come in unless they come in legally. Drugs will not pour through that wall.”
“As far as other people, like in the migration, where they’re going, tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them – I don’t think so,” Trump said. “They’re not coming to this country if I’m president. And if Obama has brought some to this country, they are leaving. They’re going. They’re gone.”
The next question went to Bush, who was asked to explain his previous comment that Trump was “unhinged.”
“Donald, you know, is great at the one-liners,” the former Florida governor said. “But he’s a chaos candidate. And he’d be a chaos president. He would not be the commander-in-chief we need to keep our country safe.”
Trump then fired back, “Jeb doesn’t really believe I’m unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign. It’s been a total disaster. Nobody cares. And, frankly, I’m the most solid person up here.”
The pair sparred again later in the debate after Trump said it was “very sad,” “unfair” and “unprofessional” that CNN asked the other candidates questions about Trump “in order to get ratings.”
Here, Bush borrowed a comeback from President Obama, saying, “The simple fact is, if you think this is tough and you’re not being treated fairly, imagine what it’s going to be like dealing with Putin or dealing with the Islamic terrorism that exists. This is a tough business to run for president.”
“Oh, you’re a tough guy, Jeb,” Trump interjected. “Real tough.”
“You’re never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency,” Bush shot back.
“Let’s see, I’m at 42 and you’re at 3 so so far I’m doing better,” Trump said, pointing to the polls.
“Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter,” Bush said.
“I’m doing better. You know, you started off over here,” Trump said, gesturing to center stage. “Jeb, you’re moving over further and further, pretty soon you’re gonna be off the end.”
The billionaire businessman reaffirmed his commitment to the Republican party Tuesday night, vowing that he would not, as he has recently hinted, run as an independent should he lose the GOP nomination.
“I am totally committed to the Republican party,” he said.