Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush drew praise from GOP presidential rival Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE during Thursday night's debate after he denied a report that he called the billionaire an ass----.

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"First of all, Jeb, I am very happy that you denied that, and I appreciate that very much," Trump said to Bush, who stood next to the businessman during the debate, before continuing in his remarks.

"I mean, he's a true gentleman. He really is," Trump said, turning to the audience. "And I mean that."

The warm words from the celebrity real estate developer, who has repeatedly said that the U.S. doesn't need "another Bush," came moments after Bush clarified his previous remarks on Trump.

Fox News host Megyn Kelly pressed Bush on whether he had described Trump as a "buffoon," "clown" and "ass----" during a private conversation with a donor, as reported Thursday by Politico.

"None of which is true," Bush responded Thursday night.

"I have said that Mr. Trump's language is divisive," Bush noted. "I want to win. We're not going to win by doing what Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do every single day: dividing the country, creating a grievance kind of environment. We are going to win when we unite people with a hopeful, optimistic message," Bush said.

Trump is ahead of Bush by double-digits in several recent national polls, with nearly twice the support of the former Florida governor in the RealClearPolitics polling average.