Donald Trump has accused former US president George W Bush of "lying" to get the country into the Iraq war, while speaking at a recent GOP presidential debate.
“They lied!” said the Republican front-runner at the CBS News debate in South Carolina. “They said there were weapons of mass destruction and there were none.”
Mr Trump unleashed a series of biting attacks against the former president, in what has been dubbed the most abrasive GOP debate yet, calling the Iraq War a “big fat mistake”.
"George Bush made a mistake," Mr Trump said. "We all make mistakes. But that one was a beauty.”
“We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East."
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
1/14 On Isis:
"Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?"
2/14 On immigration:
"I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
3/14 On Free Trade:
"Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people."
PAUL J. RICHARDS | AFP | Getty Images
4/14 On Mexicans:
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."
5/14 On China:
"I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?... I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower."
6/14 On work:
"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
7/14 On success:
"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
8/14 On life:
"Everything in life is luck."
9/14 On ambition:
"You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"
10/14 On his opponents:
"Bush is totally in favour of Common Core. I don't see how he can possibly get the nomination. He's weak on immigration. He's in favour of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can't do it."
11/14 On Obamacare:
"You have to be hit by a tractor, literally, a tractor, to use it, because the deductibles are so high. It's virtually useless. And remember the $5 billion web site?... I have so many web sites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a web site. It costs me $3."
12/14 On Barack Obama:
"Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be on one of my courses. I would invite him. I have the best courses in the world. I have one right next to the White House."
13/14 On himself:
"Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."
14/14 On America:
"The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
A moment of silence, held at the beginning of the event in memory of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia whose death was announced on Saturday, quickly turned into an eruption of bitter jibes and arguments as the other candidates criticised Mr Trump's comments.
Both Marco Rubio and the former president’s brother, Jeb Bush, defended Mr Bush against the attacks.
"I'm sick and tired of him going after my family," Jeb Bush said. "While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I'm proud of what he did.”
Speaking of Mr Bush, Mr Rubio said: “He kept us safe and I’m forever grateful.”
In response Mr Trump said: “How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Centre came down? I lost hundreds of friends.
“The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush. He kept us safe? That is not safe.”
He also added that Mr Bush had had the chance to kill Osama bin Laden but failed.
In response to the remarks, Mr Trump, who recently triumphed at the New Hampshire Primaries, received boos from the audience gathered in the Peace Centre in Greenville.
During his campaign trail the business mogul has repeatedly implied his opposition to the Iraq war, however his remarks on Saturday have been described as “remarkable” by political commentators.
In addition to his critique of Mr Bush, Mr Trump also promised to save Social Security without cutting benefits; and praised Planned Parenthood for “wonderful things having to do with women's health".
Mr Trump continues to be favourite in the polls for Republican leader and dominated the debate conservation on Twitter with 40 per cent of the mentions, according to data from the social media platform.
Former President Bush, who still has many admirers in the Republican establishment, will join his brother Jeb on the campaign trail in South Carolina, where a Republican Presidential Primary will take place on 20 February.
Additional reporting by ReutersReuse content