Jeb Bush is not cool with you going after his brother.
The former Florida governor took heat at the Republican CNN debate over his brother’s foreign policy—facing a pointed question from moderator Hugh Hewitt over whether his advisers are different from W.’s and getting the stink-eye from Donald Trump as the mogul railed against the war in Iraq.
But Jeb! was not having it. The candidate snapped back at Trump, arguing, essentially, Iraq Shmiraq, W. protected us.
“As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure,” he said. “He kept us safe.”
The crowd applauded energetically.
“I don’t know if you remember, Donald—you remember the rubble?” Bush continued. “You remember the firefighter with his arms around him? He sent a clear signal, that the United States would be strong in fighting Islamic terrorism. And he did keep us safe.”
Bush’s team quickly grabbed video of the candidate’s response and posted it for supporters to share.
That didn’t end the needling, though.
“There will always be a Bush or Clinton for ya if you want to go back to war in Iraq,” said Sen. Rand Paul in one of the few complete sentences he was able to get out in the first hour and a half of the debate.
Bush has long struggled to talk about his brother’s presidential legacy in a way that doesn’t sound odd. He famously gave three different answers in one week to a question about whether invading Iraq in the aftermath of Sept. 11 was a smart move. But the “he kept us safe” line seemed to go over well with the audience at the Reagan Presidential Library. And it drew plaudits from Republican NatSec Twitter. So buckle up for more of an “it could have been worse” defense of W.