Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio insisted Wednesday his relationship with onetime mentor Jeb Bush is “fine,” even as tensions between the two campaigns ratcheted up. Donald Trump defended his plan to deport millions of people living here illegally, saying it could be done “humanely.”
Making the rounds on morning television talk shows a day after the GOP presidential debate, the candidates pressed their main talking points before heading out to campaign in early voting states – but they also faced questions in the aftermath of their debate performances.
Rubio was asked about a moment during a commercial break that viewers could not see. A video of the moment left unclear whether Bush actually turned away from a Rubio overture, but some commentators cast it as an apparent snub.
“It may have looked that way, but that’s not what happened,” Rubio said on ABC’s “Good Morning America. “We’re fine.”
Bush’s campaign has been more aggressive in attacking Rubio, his one-time protégé, while Rubio’s campaign has been working to counter that, in part by citing Bush’s praise of him over the years.
Trump appeared in a lengthy interview on MSNBC and repeated his call for mass deportations of people here illegally. He said he would deport the estimated 11 million people living here illegally, touting President Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s efforts in the 1950s as proof such a mass deportation can be done.
When pressed on how he could carry out the deportation of millions of people, Trump said “you’re going to have a deportation force, and you’re going to do it humanely.”
Rubio said the government must deal with those here illegally “responsibly but realistically.”
He said the government must first prove to the American people that “illegal immigration numbers are down significantly” and then “modernize our legal immigration system so that it’s merit-based.” He said those applying to remain in the country legally would have to pass a criminal background check, pay a fine and learn English, among other requirements. He said they would then get a “work permit” valid for at least 10 years.
In a statement, Democratic National Committee spokesperson Christina Freundlich said Rubio “is offering no solutions to provide relief for our country’s immigrants.”
“Instead, he is trying to win over Trump supporters while turning his back on families that have a similar story to his own,” she said.
Trump, Rubio and most of the other GOP presidential candidates are campaigning Wednesday in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, all states with early contests.
Tuesday’s debate, the last for the GOP until mid-December, left the crowded GOP field jumbled with less than three months until primary voting gets underway.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.