Election News

Trump-Cruz rivalry intensifies in rollicking GOP debate


ESTABLISHMENT LANE FENDER-BENDERS

With Trump and Cruz surging in many polls, the candidates seeking the support of more traditional Republican Party voters desperately hoped to break out.

None did. But not for lack of trying.

Bush tried to score points by going after Trump. Rubio went after Christie. Kasich called for unity. And Christie mixed it up with Cruz and Rubio.

The Christie-Rubio dynamic stood out at times, particularly when Rubio refused to condemn an ad from a super PAC supporting him that portrays Christie as similar to President Barack Obama. Rubio claimed that Christie “endorsed many of the ideas” that the president supports.

Christie strongly disagreed — and he said that while two years ago Rubio called him a “conservative reformer,” now he is misrepresenting his record. “When you’re a senator what you get to do is talk and talk and talk and no one can keep up to see if what you’re saying is accurate or not,” Christie said.

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SPEAKING OF CLINTON

The former secretary of state was mentioned often by all of the candidates, and the attacks were often in the form of one-liners.

“She’s under investigation with the FBI right now,” Bush said, adding that the country should avoid a situation with a president who “might be going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse.”

Rubio was much more serious when he said Clinton is “disqualified from being president of the United States” because she “mishandled” intelligence, a reference to her use of a personal email account and server rather than a government account while at the State Department. He also accused her of telling “lies” to the families of victims in the attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi.

Separately, Christie warned, “If you’re worried about world being on fire, you cannot give Hillary Clinton a third term of Barack Obama’s leadership.”

There was little love for Clinton’s rival, Bernie Sanders. He may be surging in some preference polls, but the Republican candidates remained focused on facing off against Clinton this fall.

“We’re going to win every state, if Bernie Sanders is the nominee,” Kasich said, adding, “I know Bernie, and I can promise you he’s not going to be president of the United States.”

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