Donald Trump spars with Jeb Bush over gaming bid in Florida

A scene from the Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on September 16, 2015. Photo from Donald Trump / Facebook

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump denied ever seeking a casino in Florida after being challenged on the issue by rival Jeb Bush, the state's former governor.

Trump insisted Bush was "wrong" about wanting a casino with the Seminole Tribe even though news reports have confirmed his interest in one. The messy exchange occurred at the Republican presidential debate in California on Wednesday night:
Bush: "He wanted casino gambling in Florida -- "

Trump: "I didn’t -- "

Bush: "Yes, you did."

Trump: "Totally false."

Bush: "You wanted it, and you didn’t get it, because I was opposed to -- "

Trump: "I would have gotten it."

Bush: " -- casino gambling before -- "

Trump: "I promise, I would have gotten it."

Bush: " -- during and after. I’m not going to be bought by anybody."

Trump: "I promise, if I wanted it, I would have gotten it."

Later, Bush took credit for rejecting the proposal. "When he asked Florida to have casino gambling, we said no," he said.

Trump replied: "Wrong."

But Trump wasn't the only party that Bush, who took office in 1999, was worried about. For the next eight years, he refused to negotiate a Class III gaming compact with the Seminoles..

"I don't think their making huge profits ought to be the underlying policy of the state of Florida," Bush said in 2005 of the tribe's interest in securing an agreement.

The tribe finally got its compact but only after Bush left. His successor Charlie Crist, a Republican who switched to the Democratic party after leaving office, finally signed a historic deal in 2010.

Trump's casino past was even brought up at the undercard debate last night. Former New York Gov. George Pataki -- whose own record on gaming and Indian issues has been mixed -- said the mogul's four casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, were a failure:
Over 5,000 Americans lost their job. And you know people who, in this difficult economic time, have lost their job and the pain that causes.

He didn't lose anything, 5,000 lost their jobs. He will do for America what he did for Atlantic City and that is not someone we will nominate.

Trump is the leading Republican candidate, according to polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

Get the Story:
The real story behind Trump's Florida gaming fixation (Politico 9/17)
A Trump lie: He tried to expand casino gambling in Florida (Politico 9/16)
Jeb Bush said Donald Trump wanted casino gambling in Florida, got told 'no' (Politifact 9/16)

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