US elections 2016: Republican debate turns nasty as Rubio lays into Trump - Sabi Tips


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US elections 2016: Republican debate turns nasty as Rubio lays into Trump

Marco Rubio took the fight to Donald Trump on Thursday night. With assistance from Ted Cruz, the Florida senator unleashed an attack on Trump’s business record and policy acumen that has the potential to shake up the Republican presidential race.

More on this topic Sexual assault allegations against Trump resurface as Super Tuesday nears Trump, who has emerged as the Republican front runner with remarkably little vetting, was consistently attacked for employing foreign and illegal workers, for his business record and for his lack of policy specifics. The debate, five days before the critical Super Tuesday primaries when voters in 12 states will cast their verdict on the Republican field, descended into a series of personal attacks and bad- tempered exchanges.

 At times, the candidates shouted over each other. Rubio gleefully mocked Trump, saying

“You say the same thing every night”,
and even gave his own parody of
Trump’s stump speech: “Everyone’s
dumb, I’m going to make America great
again, I’m winning in the polls, lines
around the states, every night.”

It was the first time rival candidates have used a debate stage to go after the foundation of Trump’s campaign – his experience as a businessman, his assertion that he is the only candidate who can be relied upon to be a stalwart opponent of illegal immigration, and his fundamental belief in “winning”.

It left Trump stuttering and defensive.

“I don’t repeat myself,” he said, as he
struggled through another tough
exchange with Rubio.
“I don’t repeat myself. I don’t repeat

There is a growing anti-Trump movement and our goal tonight was to have Marco emerge as
leader of that movement Todd Harris, Rubio adviser The concerted attacks and Trump’s
counterpunching left John Kasich and Ben Carson as relative bystanders.

 At one point, Carson pleaded: “Can
somebody attack me?”

Trump has built a populist movement of discontented blue collar voters very different from the fiscally and socially conservative coalition George W Bush once relied on. As he said onstage: “We
are building a new Republican Party. A lot of new people are coming in.” But on Thursday his rivals tried to discredit him with those voters and consolidate their own appeal among Republicans who disdain Trump.

Rubio used immigration as a cudgel. The first question, from CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer, was on Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants but to let “the good ones”
back in. Rubio seized the opportunity.

“The truth is, though, that a lot of these positions that he’s now taking are new
to him,” he said. He referred to a New York Times story on Thursday that claimed that Trump’s
exclusive club in Palm Beach, Florida, has pursued more than 500 temporary foreign worker visas since 2010 and hired only a handful of US residents.

“We saw a report in one of the
newspapers that Donald, you’ve hired a
significant number of people from other
countries to take jobs that Americans
could have filled,” Rubio said.

“My mom and dad – my mom was a
maid at a hotel, and instead of hiring an
American like her, you have brought in
over a thousand people from all over
the world to fill those jobs instead.”

Trump said this was because of a lack of available American workers. “They
were part-time jobs,” he said. “You needed them, or we just might as well close the doors, because you couldn’t get help in those hot, hot sections of

Rubio then mentioned reports claiming that undocumented immigrants have worked at Trump properties. In the 1980s Trump faced a lawsuit alleging that undocumented Polish demolition
workers worked on Trump Tower in Manhattan. The suit was not settled until 1999, and the settlement never made public. A 2015 Washington Post story suggested undocumented workers could have been involved in building a new luxury hotel in the city.

“You’re the only person on this stage
that has ever been fined for hiring
people to work on your projects illegally.
You hired some workers from Poland,”
Rubio said, adding that Trump was
forced to pay “a million dollars or so” in
a judgment.

Trump said this was “totally wrong”
and hit back: “I’m the only one on the
stage that’s hired people. You haven’t
hired anybody.”

“If he builds the [border] wall the way
he built Trump Towers he’ll be using
illegal immigrant labour to do it,” Rubio

“I’ve hired tens of thousands of people,”
Trump said. “He brings up something
from 30 years ago. It worked out very
well. Everybody was happy.”
Cruz attacked Trump as a Johnny Come

“I really find it amazing that Donald
believes that he is the one who
discovered the issue of illegal
immigration,” the senator said. “I can
tell you, when I ran for Senate here in
the state of Texas, I ran promising to
lead the fight against amnesty,
promising to fight to build a wall.
In 2013, when I was fighting the
amnesty bill, where was
Donald? He was firing Dennis
Rodman on Celebrity Apprentice Ted Cruz

“And in 2013, when I was fighting
against the ‘gang of eight’ amnesty bill,
where was Donald? He was firing
Dennis Rodman on Celebrity Apprentice.”
Rubio also repeatedly hit Trump on
Trump University, a for-profit
enterprise that promised to teach
attendees about the real-estate world.

Trump is facing several lawsuits in federal court from unhappy customers of what Rubio said was “a fake university”. The attack was echoed by Cruz, who referenced one coming case, warning that Trump’s “lawyers have scheduled the trial for July” and saying the mainstream media would make hay if

“the Republican nominee [was] in court on the stand being cross-examined about whether he has committed fraud”. Trump claimed the allegations in the case were “nonsense” and insisted that he had only refused to settle it out of principle.

Rubio jibed: “You know where Donald Trump would be if he hadn’t inherited $200m? Selling watches in Manhattan.” Trump was also left staggering after an assault from Rubio on his healthcare
plan. In responseTrump insisted he would “get rid of the lines around states”, without providing further detail, and resorted to bringing up Rubio’s implosion in the New Hampshire debate
against Chris Christie as a defense.

“I watched him repeat himself five times
four weeks ago,” Trump insisted.
Rubio fired back: “I just watched you
repeat yourself five times five seconds

Trump kept on trying to change the subject to New Hampshire. More on this topic Cruz and Rubio double team Trump on immigration

Trump was then repeatedly hit on a supposed reluctance to release his tax returns, a subject that 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney – no stranger to the issue – has brought up in recent days. Cruz and Rubio said they would release their tax returns in the coming days, Rubio saying his were coming Friday or Saturday. Trump said he could not release his because of an ongoing audit.

“Every year they audit me,” Trump said.
“I will absolutely file my returns but I’m
being audited now for two or three
years and I can’t do it until the audit is

Afterwards, the Rubio and Cruz campaigns both declared victory. Jason Miller, a top aide to Cruz, told the Guardian the senator “jammed up Donald Trump”. He also sarcastically praised Rubio “for eating his Wheaties and getting into the mix for the first

Miller felt confident that night was a win for his man. “Donald Trump didn’t look presidential tonight and he lost a lot of votes,” he said before adding, in a reference to the immigration reform
effort spearheaded by Rubio in 2013:

“Those votes aren’t going to a member
of the gang of eight.”

Todd Harris, a top advisor to Rubio, said the Florida senator had met all his goals: “There is a growing anti-Trump movement within the party and our goal tonight was to have Marco emerge as
leader of that movement and I think we succeeded.” Miller said many of Rubio’s attacks
were not based on substantive issues because “trying to wage a battle of substance against Trump is pretty futile effort”.

“Anyone who goes into an attack on
Donald Trump by saying he’s not a
conservative,” he said, “…is not going to
win that fight because Trump doesn’t
pretend to be a conservative.”

The debate was the last one before Super Tuesday, which will produce the largest delegate haul of the GOP candidate selection process. Texas, with 155 delegates, is the largest of the 12 states that vote on 1 March, which range from conservative southern states such as Alabama and Georgia to liberal
outposts in New England such as Vermont and Massachusetts. Trump has led in recent polls in almost every Super Tuesday state. The exception is Texas, Cruz’s home state, where the senator has a narrow lead. Trump leads Rubio in Florida. I think Rubio was a weak guy. I thought Ted Cruz did better but what do I know Donald Trump The question now is whether those leads will crumble. Trump has weathered a parade of controversies, each of which would have likely torpedoed almost any other candidate’s campaign. Todd Harris, the Rubio aide, said his candidate finally went after Trump only because Jeb Bush had dropped out. As long as the former Florida governor was
running, he said, attacks from his super pac “made it hard for us to make case that this was two-person race between us and Donald Trump”.

The debate was held five days before the critical Super Tuesday primaries. Twelve states will vote on 1 March in the single largest delegate haul of the GOP primary. Texas, with 155 delegates, is the largest of the 12 which range from conservative southern states like Alabama and Georgia to liberal outposts in New England like Vermont and Massachusetts.

The question now is this: given that the Rubio campaign is already writing off any chance of winning a Super Tuesday state, when will that two-man race come to exist and who will run it? As Jason
Miller, the Cruz operative, jibed about Rubio’s newfound aggression: “Marco has yet to win a state. There’s probably more a sense of desperation and it has to be weighing on him pretty heavily.”
Elsewhere in the spin room, Trump also dismissed Rubio.

“I thought he was ineffective,” he said.
“I think he was a weak guy. I thought
Ted Cruz did better but what do I
know.” Rubio, he charged, was a “choke

The tone was familiar; at times, the debate had descended into little more than a slanging match, candidates speaking angrily over each other.

“Donald, you can get back on your meds
now,” Cruz said during one exchange.
“I’m relaxed. You’re the basket case,”
Trump said.
Carson, speaking to reporters, sought to
sum it all up.

“It’s clear this was all about ratings and
fights,” he said. “Unfortunately, the
audience didn’t help because when
people would fight they would yell
‘Yeah! Yeah!’ like it was gladiators.”

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