Donald Trump addressed his wild news day, Ohio Gov. John Kasich got personal and former Florida Gov. Bush offered insight on his presidential family in a CNN town hall in Greenville, South Carolina, on Thursday.
Trump addressed his feud with Pope Francis, who suggested on Thursday the candidate was “not Christian” because of his hardline immigration position.
“I don’t like fighting with the pope,” Trump said.
While Trump said he believed the pope’s comments were exaggerated in the press and that he “has a lot of respect” for the pontiff, he still got in a dig or two.
“He also talked about having a wall is not Christian, and he’s got an awfully big wall at the Vatican, I’ll tell you,” Trump said.
He took a tough question from an audience member who was upset with Trump’s accusation in last week’s GOP debate that President George W. Bush lied about Iraq’s WMDs in order to justify an invasion.
Trump, as he often does when pressed on controversial statements, refused to either stand by the accusation or retract it, repeatedly saying he’d have to review his comments.
“I don’t know why he went in,” he said. “I don’t know why he went in, because honestly, there was no reason to go in. They didn’t knock down the World Trade Center.”
Trump boasted that he had warned against the Iraq invasion, which he said was “maybe the worst decision any president has made in the history of this country” in 2002 and 2003.
There’s still almost no evidence Trump opposed the war until 2004, however, well after the invasion had occurred. In fact, BuzzFeed reporter Andrew Kaczynski unearthed a 2002 interview Thursday night in which Trump told Howard Stern he agreed with invading Iraq and “wish[ed] the first time it was done correctly.”
Asked about the quote, Trump said it was possible he made the comments, but that his views on the war evolved as the invasion neared.
“By the time the war started, I was against it, and shortly thereafter, I was really against it,” he said.
Kasich’s appearance came hours after a dramatic town hall in which a tearful supporter told the governor his campaign had given him hope after a suicide and divorce in his family. Kasich hugged the young man, and the clip of the exchange traveled fast on social media and TV.
Speaking at the CNN event, Kasich said the emotional moment showed that candidates needed to acknowledge people’s personal suffering in addition to offering policy.
“One of the things that I’ve felt and I’ve said in the campaign is we all need to slow down a little bit,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who are lonely and are looking for a place to tell their issues.”
Kasich was asked about health care and said whatever replacement he produced for the Affordable Care Act would allow Americans to purchase health care regardless of their health history.
"When I'm president, a pre-existing condition will never be acceptable to deny you coverage,” he said.
Bush was asked whether he would nominate a Supreme Court justice in the final year of his term and said he “probably would.”
“We should be respectful of the Constitution, but whatever powers are afforded the presidency, the president ought to use them,” he said.
However, Bush said the “divisive environment” today meant that President Obama would likely be unable to find a nominee whom the current Senate would approve.
“I think it is probably better to make this part of the election,” he said.
Bush talked at length about his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and said he learned new things about him from reading a recent biography by John Meacham.
“I learned of how tough it was to lose in 1992,” Bush said. “He didn’t share that. He’s part of the generation that, you don’t show your emotions, you grind through, stiff upper lip or whatever it is.”
He also talked about his brother’s oil painting hobby.
“That’s really weird,” he said. He added he “was actually pretty good at it.”
Thursday’s town hall was the second of a two-part series. The first one, on Wednesday, featured Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz and Dr. Ben Carson.