Debate Spat

Jeb and Trump Nearly Come to Blows in Debate Over Florida Casinos

Did Bush shoot Trump down on casinos as Florida governor? One says yes, the other no, and things got loud when the two sparred over it at the CNN debate.

09.17.15 1:30 AM ET

The Republican primary debate escalated quickly.

Just a few minutes in, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump had a spat that almost got physical—it was noisy, angry, and excellent television. It started when Bush went after Trump over the question of whether Florida should have allowed casinos in the state while he was its governor.

Bush said Trump pushed for that change—and that, as governor, he shot the mogul down. Trump retorted that, in fact, he did not push for casinos in Florida because if he had pushed for casinos then there would have been casinos because he is Donald Trump and all he does is win win win no matter what.

Then things got interesting.

“The donors, the special interests, the lobbyists have very strong power over these people,” Trump continued. “They have a lot of control over our politicians. And I don’t say that favorably.”

Bush replied that Trump is part of the problem, since he’s said he essentially paid Hillary Clinton to come to his third wedding.

"According to what you said on one of the talk shows, you got Hillary Clinton to go to your wedding because you gave her money,” he retorted. “Maybe it works for Hillary Clinton, but it doesn’t work for anybody on this stage.”

This whole exchange happened as the two men sort of waved their arms and got in each other’s space.

“Jeb, Jeb, I was a businessman!” Trump said, breaking out some of his trademark hand-waving. “I got along with Clinton, I get along with everybody, that was my job to get along with everybody.”

Bush tried talking over him, and Trump snapped, “No.” Then Bush stopped.

More energy tonight, I like that,” Trump retorted, looking forward while pointing sharply at Bush.

Wow! Tense!

The fact at issue, whether Trump lobbied to get Florida to allow casino gambling, quickly got litigated on Twitter. Bush spokesman Tim Miller tweeted out a CNN report from Sept. 1 headlined “Jeb Bush: The man who killed Trump’s casino dreams.”

Anyway, debates are fun.