Was Donald Trump thwarted in his plans to bring casino gambling in Florida? That’s what former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush claimed as he went head-to-head against Trump during Wednesday night’s GOP presidential debate.
The heated portion of the debate started when Bush said his record proves he doesn’t bow to special interests. As proof, the presidential hopeful said Trump tried to sway him in the past in favor of easing restrictions on casino gambling in Florida.
“You wanted it, and you didn’t get it, because I was opposed to casino gambling before, during and after. I’m not going to be bought by anybody,” Bush said, according to CBS News.
Trump shot back, “I promise, if I wanted it, I would have gotten it.”
But is there truth to Bush’s claims? According to a recent CNN report, yes.
Back in 1998, Trump—who has repeatedly said that he donates to politicians in hopes of getting favors in return—hosted a $500-per-person fundraiser for Bush in Trump Tower, and even shelled out $50,000 to the Florida Republican Party.
The business mogul, however, had to abandon his hopes for a Florida casino when Bush refused to budge from his hardline stance against gambling in the state. The then governor was a known opponent of gambling in the state, having once served on the board of No Casinos, a group that fought casinos in Florida, according to Politifact.
Florida political consultant Doug Guetzloe told CNN that the former governor “made it clear to everyone that he was not interested in having casinos in the state of Florida.”
During Wednesday night’s debate, Trump said his lobbying failed because he didn’t care about it, but the magnate eventually returned to Florida in 2013 and hired lobbyist Brian Ballard to represent him in the Capital City.
“If Miami doesn’t do casinos, that would be a terrible mistake,” Trump said at the time. “Taxes would be able to be reduced substantially and Miami is the only place that Las Vegas is really concerned about—in the United States.”
Another presidential hopeful, New York Gov. George Pataki, also went after the business mogul because of his casinos that went under in Atlantic City. During the debate, Pataki said more than 5,000 Americans lost their jobs when Trump’s four casinos went under.
The Daily Caller quoted Pataki, who said, “You know people who have lost their jobs and the pain that causes. [Trump] didn’t lose anything. He will do for America what he did for Atlantic City.”
Trump has called Pataki a “terrible” governor in a Twitter post last July.
Pataki hit back during the debate, saying the businessman “is unfit to be the Republican nominee for president.”