Donald Trump said last night he believes the Mexican government might be behind Pope Francis’ comments questioning his Christianity — while his GOP rivals largely gave him a free pass on the pontifical war of words during CNN’s Republican presidential forum last night.
“I think they probably talked about, ‘Isn’t it terrible that Mr. Trump wants to have border security?’ ” Trump said. “And the pope made the statement.”
In response to the pope’s remarks disparaging Trump’s border wall proposal, Trump added: “He’s got an awfully big wall at the Vatican, I will tell you.”
The pope yesterday called into question Trump’s Christianity during a question-and-answer session with reporters on the plane back from Mexico, adding yet another bizarre twist to an increasingly unorthodox campaign.
Trump’s opponents, torn between favoring tough action on illegal immigration and their need to knock off the front-running Trump, mostly let the brash billionaire off the hook.
“I don’t question people’s Christianity,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “I think that’s a relationship they have between their lord and savior and themselves.”
“I’m pro-pope. Put me in the pro-pope column,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich. “We have a right to build a wall. But I gotta tell you, there are too many walls between us. We need bridges between us if we’re going to fix the problems in Washington because all they do is have walls.”
The town hall forum was held at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, sponsored by CNN and hosted by Anderson Cooper.
Kasich, Bush and Trump attended last night, while retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz took part in the first night of the forum on Wednesday.
Trump insisted he has the demeanor to be president but that the country needs “a certain toughness” to take on ISIS and other top threats.
“I can be more politically correct than anybody you’ve ever interviewed,” said Trump. “I can do whatever I want. … I deal with society. Society loves me. And I can act differently for different people.”
Bush, meanwhile, insisted his campaign still has momentum despite losing out on the endorsement of Palmetto State Gov. Nikki Haley, who backed Rubio on Wednesday.
He also became emotional describing the impact his father, former President George H.W. Bush, has had on him, saying if he could be “half the man” his dad is, it would mean living a life “of meaning and purpose.”
South Carolina’s primary tomorrow night could be the end of the road for campaigns that under-perform.
Trump, meanwhile, would get a huge boost with another victory coming off his 20-point win in New Hampshire.
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