Jeb Bush blames Pope Francis for rise of Trump

Former Republican contender Jeb Bush has appeared to blame Pope Francis for the rise of Donald Trump.Reuters

Former contender for the Republican nomination Jeb Bush has appeared to blame Pope Francis for the extraordinary rise of Donald Trump.

In an interview last night with MSNBC, Bush said he was "disappointed he didn't break through" as it would have been "an extraordinary time to serve as President".

He criticised the media's coverage of Trump, saying: "I'm not sure in the environment that we were in in 2016 – partially created by this larger than life character, partially created by, frankly, the media's coverage of him that blocked out the sun effectively for anybody else – [if anything would have made a difference]. I spent most of my time doing press interviews commenting on what Donald Trump said."

But Bush also accused the Pope of "intervening in American politics" because of his comments about immigration – a major issue in the Republican race – and his holding a mass on the border between the US and Mexico attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

Bush said: "[The Pope] was talking about basically open borders at a time when the whole Trump phenomenon was to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. [The Pope] literally goes to the border for a massive mass," Bush said. "I don't think he should be intervening."

However, he concluded: "Kudos for Trump for winning the nomination. It was extraordinary. And you can't take that away from him. He's the presumptive nominee. And he earned it. Now he needs to run for president. There's a difference, and we'll see how that works."