GOPers run from Trump on immigration stance

Updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed July 8, 2015
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(CNN) —  

Jeb Bush said Donald Trump doesn’t represent the views of most Republicans, offering his most aggressive comments so far on the real estate titan who’s used inflammatory language when talking about immigrants.

“This is a guy who was a Democrat for most of the last decade. I don’t think he represents the Republican Party, and his views are way out of the mainstream of what most Republicans think,” Bush told reporters after an Independence Day parade in Merrimack, New Hampshire, according to The New York Times.

Calling immigrants from Latin America “rapists,” Trump has become a thorn in the side of many Republicans, who are trying to appeal to a wider tent of voters, including Latinos.

Other GOP presidential contenders hammered Trump for those remarks on Sunday.

“I was offended by his remarks,” former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Listen, Hispanics in America and Hispanics in Texas, from the Alamo to Afghanistan, have been extraordinary people, citizens of our country and of our state. They have served nobly,” he said. “And to paint with that broad a brush that Donald Trump did is – I mean he’s going to have to defend those remarks. I never will. And I will stand up and say that those are offensive, which they were.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also split with Trump on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Asked about Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about Mexicans, Huckabee softened his stance, saying he would “never besmirch all the people who come here.”

He said that if illegal immigrants “want to be part of the American dream” and share the country’s flag, culture and language, their motivations are the same as early immigrants to the country.

Bush, whose wife is from Mexico, stated a week ago in Nevada that he simply thought Trump was “wrong,” adding that “maybe we will have a chance to have an honest discussion about it on a stage somewhere.”

But on Saturday, Bush talked at length about his presidential rival after a week of continued pressure on Republicans – including by other Republicans – to make more forceful condemnations of Trump.

“Trump is wrong on this,” Bush said. “He’s doing this. He’s not a stupid guy. Don’t think he thinks every Mexican crossing the border is a rapist. He’s doing this to inflame and incite and to draw attention, which seems to be his organizing principle of his campaign.”

Trump fired back Saturday.

“Today, Jeb Bush once again proves that he is out of touch with the American people,” he said in a statement.

“… He doesn’t understand anything about the border or border security. In fact, Jeb believes illegal immigrants who break our laws when they cross our border come “out of love.”

He said he is “proud to be fighting for a strong and secure border,” describing it as a crucial issue.

Trump said Friday that the recent killing of a young woman in San Francisco by a suspect who police say is an undocumented immigrant is further proof of his argument.

Asked about the slaying, Bush agreed that the border needs to be secure and that anyone who commits a crime “should be deported,” chiding what he called “sanctuary cities that encourage this.”

Sticking to his message about maintaining an optimistic tune, Bush said Republicans will do best “when we’re hopeful” rather than “angry all the time.”

“And this is an exaggerated form of that and there is no tolerance for that,” he said, according to The New York Times.

Following his presidential announcement last month, Trump saw a sharp boost in his poll numbers and came in second place behind Bush according to the latest CNN/ORC International poll.

Bush has been on the receiving end of sharp rhetoric from Trump, who’s criticized the former Florida governor for his positions on immigration and Common Core.

“He thinks people come over for love. I don’t understand why he’s in first place,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon earlier this week. “Maybe it’s the Bush name. Last thing we need is another Bush. But I will tell you, I’m a little surprised he’s in the position he’s in.”