US presidential candidate Jeb Bush said last night that he would back fellow Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump if the businessman-turned-politician wins the party's nomination for the 2016 election and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.
Asked if he would support Mr Trump as Republican nominee over Ms Clinton in the November 2016 contest, Mr Bush said, "I would, of course."
"We need to be unified. We need to win," Mr Bush, the former Florida governor, said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" television program, one day after Mr Trump told the same show he would back Mr Bush over Ms Clinton.
Mr Bush and Mr Trump have been engaged in public attacks on each another as they vie for the party's nomination.
Mr Trump has spent weeks taunting Bush, one of his closest rivals in public opinion polls in the large Republican field. The real estate mogul and television personality has mocked Mr Bush as "low-energy," and this week criticised him for answering a question in Spanish.
The Bush campaign initially had avoided engaging in a war of words with Mr Trump. But on Wednesday, Mr Bush's advisers signalled a new effort to fight back with campaign ads and social media efforts.
On Thursday, Mr Bush took issue with Mr Trump's tactics and called on his rival to tone down his attacks. Mr Trump has made controversial remarks about immigration and Latinos. Mr Bush, whose wife was born in Mexico, told ABC that diversity adds vitality to the country.
"I think Donald Trump trying to insult his way to the presidency is not going to work. People want an uplifting, hopeful message," he said.
Mr Bush added that Mr Trump should "figure out a way to lessen the divisive language, the hurtful language and talk about the aspirations of the American people, rather than trying to prey on their fears."
Reuters/Ipsos polling shows Mr Trump with support among nearly 31pc of self-identified Republicans as of September 1, with Mr Bush garnering support among nearly 12pc, behind former neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Speaking about Mr Trump's criticism of him for speaking Spanish, Mr Bush told ABC: "I laughed. I mean this is a joke."
Mr Bush said he had been responding to a reporter's question in Spanish this week when he replied in Spanish to criticise Mr Trump.
Mr Trump told Breitbart News that Mr Bush should "set the example" by speaking English while in the United States.
Mr Bush called Mr Trump's comments bizarre, adding that Mr Trump is appealing to people's angst and fears rather than their higher hopes.
However, while Mr Bush has collected large sums of money from the party establishment, he has so far failed to excite voters.