Jeb Bush would support Donald Trump if the real estate billionaire were to win the Republican presidential nomination, “because anybody is better than Hillary Clinton”.

The former Florida governor thinks that outcome unlikely, however, because the more voters hear of Trump, particularly on foreign policy, “the less likely he’s going to get the Republican nomination”.

Bush, who trails Trump by some distance in polls regarding the sizable Republican field, was speaking to CBS in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday morning, excerpts of which were published by Politico. Though Trump’s lead fell by 12 points in one recent poll, he has surfed a number of controversies over comments made on the campaign trail to maintain a healthy advantage.

Before his run-in with the New York Times this week, over his appearing to mimic a reporter’s disability during a campaign speech, Trump caused uproar when he appeared to agree with a suggestion that all Muslims in the US should be registered and mosques closed.

He has also repeatedly insisted that Muslims in New Jersey were seen to celebrate the 9/11 attacks – a claim refuted by New Jersey residents, fact checkers, the New York Times reporter and police.

On Saturday, at a rally in Sarasota, Florida, he widened his approach to the subject, saying: “Worldwide, the Muslims were absolutely going wild.”

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