Story highlights

The two men defended Gen. David Petraeus as the Department of Defense considers whether to demote the retired four-star general

Both candidates cited Hillary Clinton's email scandal as being far worse in comparison

CNN  — 

After months of butting heads, Republican candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump found themselves in agreement Wednesday.

The two men defended Gen. David Petraeus as the Department of Defense considers whether to demote the retired four-star general after he acknowledged in court proceedings that he provided classified material to author Paula Broadwell, with whom he had a personal relationship.

At a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump, the GOP front-runner, defended Petraeus while comparing his actions to Hillary Clinton’s use of private email while at the State Department.

“I mean look at Petraeus – good guy, made a mistake, and by the way, leave the guy alone,” Trump told thousands of supporters gathered at Oral Roberts University. “Leave Petraeus alone. Right? Enough already. Enough. They’ve gone after him, they’ve destroyed him, and yet Hillary’s flying safe and she did 100 times worse than what he did.”

Trump went on to say that Clinton was only positive now about President Barack Obama and his administration when she once “couldn’t stand the President” was because she “wants to stay out of the clink.”

Bush, while campaigning with Sen. Lindsey Graham at an American Legion post in New Hampshire, was asked by a voter how he would handle the “General Petraeus fiasco.”

Graham, answering first, said Petraeus “made mistakes” but praised the general for his work in the Middle East, saying he “saved us from losing in Iraq” and vowed to fight against any effort to take a star away from the general.

Jack Barnes, a Purple Heart recipient from the Korean War, had originally asked the question.

“Who in this room hasn’t made a damn mistake?” Barnes, 84, yelled out to the room, which stayed largely quiet as a few people agreed with him. “See, not a damn soul in here.”

Barnes – who lives in Raymond, New Hampshire, and was wearing a George W. Bush hat signed by Jeb Bush just minutes earlier, condemned the review of Petraeus’s status.

“Those damn witch hunters down there should be ashamed of themselves,” he told CNN.

For his part, Bush told the audience he “absolutely” agreed that Petraeus shouldn’t be demoted.

“Of course he made a mistake and he paid a price. He accepts the responsibility. That’s the point. That’s why in some ways he’s to be admired. He accepted responsibility,” Bush said.

Bush pivoted to Clinton’s email scandal, saying the FBI investigation into her private server “could yield something far worse than Petraeus.”

That’s when Graham interjected to add his favorite quote from Clinton during Sunday’s Democratic debate.

“‘You’re never too big to go to jail.’ She was talking about banks but I think it applies to everything,” Graham said.

“She’s on one of those diet programs, isn’t she?” Barnes quipped, attempting to turn the moment into a joke about Clinton’s physical appearance.

But Bush quickly deflected the conversation.

“Hey, don’t start criticizing diet programs. Those aren’t bad,” he said to laughs as he called on the next person.