While Republicans look to distance themselves from inflammatory rhetoric by Donald Trump, Jeb Bush has also sought to address the billionaire businessman's supporters -- a rare move by a candidate in the crowded field of GOP presidential hopefuls.
Speaking in South Carolina on Tuesday, Bush was not willing to take the John McCain route of calling Trump supporters “crazies,” when he addressed a local conservative women's group.
Instead, he opted to describe them as “good people,” though he continued to distance himself from the real-estate mogul, who also visited the state.
In a town hall-style discussion in Spartanburg, S.C., Bush said those who are gravitating toward Trump see a world in which there is a “lack of rule of law.”
“They see an uncontrolled border, they see a sanctuary city. Really, I mean, we really release convicted prisoners, criminals who should be deported? We release them to the streets in defiance of the federal government to make it harder for them to enforce the law when they're not doing the best job in the world to do it,” said Bush, while speaking before the Palladian View, a local group focused on issues of concern to conservative women.
“You go across the spectrum and you sort of watch TV and you see this unfold and you go, 'Look I want someone to fight for me on this,' and so I respect the sentiments that people feel when they hear Trump talk,” he added.
Though going after Trump can lead to intense criticism by the reality television star turned GOP presidential aspirant, Bush's message of hearing the concerns of his supporters could prove beneficial as he tries to win over conservative primary voters.
Still, the former Florida governor said the problem is that Trump's language is forging a gap between Americans.
“It's divisive, it's ugly, it's mean-spirited,” said Bush. “I think you need to separate Mr. Trump -- we have to separate him from the people that have legitimate concerns about the country.”
Earlier on Tuesday in Bluffton, S.C., about 230 miles south, Trump continued his critiques of the nation's immigration laws and took aim at Lindsey Graham, the state's senior senator, who is also seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
“He's registered zero in the polls. Zero. He's on TV all the time,” Trump said of Graham, who has lambasted the billionaire's comments about Mexican immigrants and McCain's military service. Trump then announced Graham's personal phone number , creating a minor furor and leading Graham to joke that he needs a new phone.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday showed Trump netting 24% support among GOP candidates, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 13% and Bush receiving 12%.