Former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole slammed GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz on Tuesday, telling MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell
that both men represent the extreme side of the Republican Party.
"How do you explain Donald Trump?" Dole asked Mitchell in an interview that was recorded before the businessman's latest controversy over banning Muslims from coming into the United States. "He says things over the top and people applaud."
But his strongest words were about Cruz in the interview, which aired on Mitchell's cable news show at noon.
"Cruz is so extreme, he's not a traditional Republican conservative," Dole said about the Texas senator. "[He has] achievements of shutting down the government twice and calling the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, a liar on the Senate floor. You don't do that; it violates the rules of the Senate."
Such actions, said Dole, do not add "a single Senate supporter."
Dole, who announced his endorsement of Jeb Bush on Veteran's Day, told Mitchell in the interview that he believes the political scion has the experience needed to be president.
Further, he said he hopes that Bush has new ads that are "forceful, showing passion, and talking about foreign policy and economic policy."
"He is the tortoise in the race," said Dole. "I still think he'll make it. "
But meanwhile, said Dole, "it's hard to explain 'The Donald.' I mean, he says all of these things but he never backs it up as policy. 'I'll take care of Russia, I'll take care of Mexico, if we're going to build a wall, they're going to pay for it.' I know the Mexicans have been insulted."
Trump also insults Arizona Sen. John McCain and every other candidate, said Dole, and "somehow people, I don't know whether they like it or not, and I'm not certain that they're voters that are voting in the polls, whether they'll show up at the Iowa caucuses on a cold February night."
But, said Dole, someone is needed that can unite Republicans, not "divide the party into some extreme group on the right."
And with the state the party is in today, Dole said he's not certain Ronald Reagan could be nominated in today's climate.
As for Trump getting the nomination, "I didn't think so a couple of months ago but his numbers are staying fairly steady. I think if he wants to be president, wants to be the nominee, he needs to tone down his rhetoric, then he needs to get into the issues and explain what he's going to do for the economy. It's one thing to say I'm going to do this and I'm going to do this, but there is a congress, you know, and you have to work with Congress."
Dole, though, does not see himself supporting a Democrat, even if Bush doesn't get the nomination and Trump does.
"I've supported Democrats in the past, not that, I'm, you know, a hard-rock Republican, but if it's Hillary [Clinton], I think she's moved to the left as some of our party's moved to the right," said Dole. "It would be four, eight more years of Obama, who is a very good man but I just don't think he was quite ready for the job."
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