MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Donald Trump's call to block Muslims from entering the United States will only help Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Clinton's chances of being elected president, Jeb Bush said on Tuesday.
Trump on Monday called for the U.S. to block all Muslims from entering the country until leaders sort out how to properly conduct background checks of potential terrorists -- comments that caused Bush, the former Florida governor, to call the GOP front-runner "unhinged."
Bush angrily denounced Trump again after visiting a downtown law firm here and repeatedly dismissed the New York businessman's chances of winning the Republican Party's presidential nomination.
Trump's comment "helps his buddy, Hillary Clinton, for sure. In our fight against Islamic terrorism, we have to maintain our values and what he proposed – if that’s a proposition, is not a serious proposition at all," he said.
Later, he added: "We’re living in really dangerous times and Republicans are going to nominate someone who can beat Hillary Clinton and can actually serve as president in a way to keep us safe. And I just don’t believe that Republicans are going to buy this language that guarantees that Hillary Clinton has a far better chance of winning."
But Bush, clearly upset to be facing yet another round of questions about Trump, also accused the media of being played.
"I’ve just laid out comprehensive plans to destroy ISIS, which would solve this problem, and to deal with the refugee challenges and deal with our entitlement problems and our tax code and all this and he’s playing you guys like a fine Stradivarius violin," he told about two dozen reporters trailing him, using an abbreviation for the Islamic State terror group.
"This is what he does. He’s an expert at this, he’s phenomenal at garnering attention," Bush added. "This campaign should be about the big ideas that we need to implement to fix the things that are broken in our country and to restore America’s leadership in the world."
Most other Republican presidential candidates have denounced Trump's comments as did House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. But GOP leaders have declined to say whether they would support Trump if he wins the Republican nomination. Once again on Tuesday, Bush insisted it will never happen.
"He’s not going to be the nominee. He’s not going to be the nominee," he told a reporter who repeatedly asked whether Bush would still support Trump if he wins the nomination.
Bush spent about 50 minutes answering questions from law firm employees and other local business people during an event hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce. A 5-year-old boy named Caleb asked Bush to list three things he hoped to accomplish by the end of his first term in office. Bush said he would work to keep the country safe; strike a "big bipartisan deal" to solve fiscal or entitlement problems; and move the country towards a balanced budget.