Last night CNN featured yet another fun debate in the Republican contest for the presidential nomination. Expectations going in were extremely low. Even though most Republican voters oppose Donald Trump, the lack of consensus means that Trump has secured decisive wins in early primary and caucus states. Conservatives and others not keen on Trump’s morality or policies, such as they are, had begun to give up hope.
The smaller group of candidates enabled more time with each one. Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz used some of this time to target front-runner Trump. Here are a few of the night’s big takeaways.
1. Rubio, Cruz Show Up and Fight
For some inexplicable reason, previous debates had candidates going quite easy on Trump. Only Cruz and Jeb Bush had tried to land punches, with varying success. But last night, Rubio and Cruz both went after Trump. And they did so relentlessly. They hit him hard on policy, asking him to be specific about how he would Make America Great Again. Given a chance by moderator Dana Bash to explain his health care policy, he declined. After he said he’d done more for Israel than anyone else, Cruz asked him to name one specific thing he’d done. He was unable.
Even more effective, Rubio and Cruz teased him as a lightweight without a command of the facts, interrupted him, and teased him some more. At one point Cruz told him to “relax.” Every time Trump denied saying something he’d previously said or denied doing something he’d done, Rubio calmly encouraged viewers to Google for more information. Here’s a good look at one of these exchanges.
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