Former GOP candidate Jeb Bush said Monday night he won't be voting in this fall's presidential election for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and revealed some continuing bitterness toward Trump, including accusing Pope Francis of "intervening in American politics."
"The Pope intervening in American politics didn't help," Bush told MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, in an pre-recorded interview airing on MSNBC
. "The news cycle was dominated by that. Trump, to his credit was very smart in exploiting these kinds of opportunities."
"You're a Catholic blaming the Pope?" Wallace, who had been President George W. Bush's communications director, asked his brother, a former Florida governor.
"No, no, I'm not blaming," Bush told her while commenting on the Pope's decision to speak at the Mexico-U.S. border, which has been a focus of Trump's race.
"I mean, [I had] been talking about basically open borders at a time when the whole Trump phenomena was to build a wall and make Mexico pay for where he goes — literally goes — to the border for a massive Mass."
The Pope had "every right" to celebrate the Mass, Bush said, "but I don't think he should be intervening. I don't know if he understood that he was intervening in our political affairs."
Bush left the race after placing a distant fourth place in the South Carolina primary, but he continues to believe that Trump, like Clinton, is not qualified to be the commander in chief, and he said he won't vote for either one of them.
His declaration met with scorn among some pundits Tuesday morning, including MSNBC political analyst and Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson.
"The 'I can't vote for either one' absolutely drives me crazy in a man who ran for president," Robinson said on the "Morning Joe" program Tuesday. "He wanted to be president of the United States.
"They have to make decisions where they think they have two bad alternatives. They can't just say, 'I'm not going to decide.' He should decide."
"Conservatism is temporarily dead," Bush told Wallace in the Monday interview. "The simple fact is there's a threshold past which anybody that steps into the Oval Office must go past. And I don't think either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump pass that threshold. In terms of temperament, character, trustworthiness, integrity."
And since he doesn't believe either to be qualified, and he thinks of the presidency as "sacred ground," and that a president should uphold the Constitution, "I can't vote for either one of them."
Bush also warned during the interview that Trump won't be able to keep the promises
that led voters to overwhelmingly choose him.
His promises for a wall at the Mexican border and a ban on Muslims are all "like an alternative universe he created," when the "reality is that's not going to happen . . . People are going to be deeply frustrated and the divides will grow in our country."
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