Rivals go for Trump in bruising Republican debate showdown

Published: Friday 26th February 2016 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Brawling from the beginning, a fiery Marco Rubio went after front-runner Donald Trump in the last Republican presidential debate before the key Super Tuesday contest, lashing out at his position on immigration, his privileged background and his speaking style.

Ted Cruz joined in too, questioning the billionaire businessman’s conservative credentials, as the two senators tag-teamed Mr Trump in a debate that reflected the increasing urgency of their effort to take down the former The Apprentice TV host before he becomes unstoppable.

The confrontation in Houston, Texas, marked a rare night where bombastic Mr Trump found himself on the defensive.

The other two remaining candidates, Ben Carson and John Kasich, were largely left to watch the fireworks flying overhead.

The debate played out as a raucous night of tit-for-tat insults, with candidates shouting over one another so much that it was hard to follow at times.

The showdown came just days before the March 1 Super Tuesday 11-state round of mega-voting that could all but lock up the Republican nomination.

Mr Trump may well become the inevitable Republican after Super Tuesday, where 595 delegates are at stake. So far, after four primary and caucus contests, Mr Trump has 82 delegates, Mr Cruz has 17 and Mr Rubio has 16.

A candidate must have 1,237 state delegates to win the Republican nomination at the party’s convention this summer.

When Mr Trump faulted Mr Rubio on a deal to buy a 179,000-dollar (£128,000) house, the Florida senator shot back that if Mr Trump “hadn’t inherited 200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan”.

In another rough exchange, Mr Rubio accused Mr Trump of shifting his position on deportation, hiring people from other countries to take jobs from Americans and being fined for worker breaches. Joining in, Mr Cruz criticised Mr Trump for suggesting he alone had “discovered the issue of illegal immigration”.

Mr Trump shot back at Mr Rubio: “I hired tens of thousands of people. You’ve hired nobody.”

As for Mr Cruz, Mr Trump took a more personal tack, touting his own ability to get along with others and adding: “You get along with nobody. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Both Mr Rubio and Mr Cruz said that Mr Trump had had to pay a million-dollar fine for illegal immigration hiring.

Mr Rubio was the principal aggressor of the night and he held nothing back. Taking on Mr Trump’s declaration that he would build a wall on the Mexican border, Mr Rubio declared: “If he builds a wall the way he built Trump Tower he’ll be using illegal immigration to do it.”

Mr Trump, for his part, insisted that even though officials in Mexico have said they will not pay for the planned wall, “Mexico will pay for the wall”. And he said because Mexico’s current and former presidents had criticised him on the issue, “the wall just got 10 feet taller”.

Mr Trump, known for his frequent use of coarse and profane language on the campaign trail, scolded former Mexican president Vicente Fox for swearing while talking about Mr Trump’s plan for the wall.

“He should be ashamed of himself and he should apologise,” Mr Trump declared.

After Mr Trump mocked Mr Rubio for his “meltdown” in a previous debate when the Florida senator repeated rote talking points, Mr Rubio hit back, scolding Mr Trump for spouting the same things over and over during the current debate – “Everyone’s dumb. He’s going to make America great again. We’re going to win, win, win. He’s winning in the polls”.

Mr Trump responded to both Mr Rubio and Mr Cruz with: “This guys a choke artist and this guy’s a liar. Other than that I rest my case.”

Mr Cruz ramped up his criticism as the night wore on. The Texas senator said Mr Trump was not releasing his tax returns “because he’s afraid” and argued that Mr Trump would not be an effective opponent against Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election.

In the past, Mr Rubio and Mr Cruz had shown little willingness to take on Mr Trump when the national spotlight was the brightest, but that all changed in the ninth Republican debate of the campaign, clearly showing the growing sense that Mr Trump is on track for the nomination.

On the Democratic side, Mrs Clinton has South Carolina mostly to herself two days before the first-in-the-South primary on Saturday and is using it to capitalise on her advantage over rival Bernie Sanders with black voters.

Vermont senator Mr Sanders, meanwhile, was traversing the Great Lakes region in states that hold early March primaries with much whiter electorates than South Carolina and the Deep South.

Published: Friday 26th February 2016 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search