Two of the leading 2016 U.S. Republican presidential contenders, real estate mogul Donald Trump and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, are taunting each other five months before the country's first party primary election.
Trump and Bush held dueling town hall rallies with voters just a few kilometers apart Wednesday in [the northeastern state of] New Hampshire, where Republicans will vote in February.
Early political surveys of Republicans have shown Trump in the lead nationally and among party members in the states with the first 2016 Republican contests.
Trump, currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, easily outdrew Bush, who is the son and brother of U.S. presidents and a favorite of establishment Republicans. Bush has a much more subdued personality than the flamboyant Trump, though, a one-time reality TV show host.
"You know what, I tell you what," Trump said, "you know what is happening to Jeb's crowd, as you know right down the street? They are sleeping, they are sleeping now."
He called Bush a "low-energy person." Earlier, he told reporters, "I do not see how he is electable."
Bush attacked Trump's claim to be a conservative Republican.
''Mr. Trump does not have a proven conservative record," Bush said. "He was a Democrat longer in the last decade than he was a Republican. He has given more money to Democrats than he's given to Republicans.''
A new Quinnipiac University survey of voter sentiment in the states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania showed that Trump and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential contender, may be atop the fields for their party nominations in the three states, but they also have the worst overall favorability ratings of the leading candidates, and the lowest scores for being honest and trustworthy.
Since 1960, no U.S. presidential candidate has captured the White House without winning at least two of the three politically diverse states.
The poll showed that Bush and another Republican contender, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, both fare better than Trump in a hypothetical November 2016 general election contest in the three states against Clinton or Vice President Joe Biden, who is considering whether to enter the race for the Democratic nomination.
Trump has refused to rule out an independent bid for the presidency if he does not win the Republican nomination. The Quinnipiac survey showed he would finish third in three-way contests in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, however, with Clinton winning and Bush second.