Tonight’s debate was nothing short of a spectacle. At the beginning of the debate, there was a call for a moment of silence for the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. But immediately after the moment of silence, the gloves began to come off. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio got into quite a heated exchange over who supported amnesty and the details of the Gang of 8 immigration bill.
It resulted in Rubio claiming that Cruz has lied about Rubio’s record on the campaign trail. Cruz asserted that Rubio told Univision, a Spanish-language news outlet, that he would support amnesty. Rubio responded by claiming that Cruz didn’t even speak Spanish!
But the Cruz-Rubio exchange over immigration was just a precursor to more fireworks. When asked by the moderator about George W. Bush’s upcoming South Carolina trip to campaign for his brother, Jeb Bush, fellow candidate Donald Trump brought up the Iraq war and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Trump said that George W. Bush was president when the twin towers fell, sounding more like Michael Moore, the 9/11 conspiracy theorist. This was not only met with a chorus of boos from the audience, but it was also met with a defiant Jeb Bush who ordered Trump to stop attacking the Bush family, including Jeb Bush’s mother.
It appeared tonight that Trump had an unhinged meltdown and the audience was not very receptive to his tactics. There was much pressure on Rubio tonight to prove that he could bounce back from his most recent lackluster debate performance during the debate just before the New Hampshire primary. Rubio was firm and concise on national security and the right to life in his closing statements. His most noteworthy moment occurred when he criticized Bill Clinton’s failure to kill Osama bin Laden as reason for the 9/11 terrorist attack.
Trump went after Cruz by calling him a “liar” and accusing him of manipulating the truth. Of course this came right after Cruz referred to Trump as a “great entertainer.”
While Trump and Cruz didn’t have strong nights, it remains to be seen if any of the other candidates will be able to benefit from it. John Kasich kept with his positive message and Ben Carson stuck to his message of “We the People.”
There were plenty of fireworks tonight and there should be some movement in the polls Is just a question of who it will be that makes the most significant gains.