RS: America Won Tonight’s Debate
Tonight America finally got to see the most talented conservative debaters in the business – Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz – team up to attack Donald Trump as an ill-informed, empty-talking-points-dependent blowhard and lifelong liberal Democrat who doesn’t take a punch well. Cruz was pretty close to his A game, which is very good indeed, getting better as the night went on; Rubio was spitting straight fire from the starting gun, mocking Trump with ease and contempt and a smile on his face. If anyone who watched this debate still votes for Trump, we really have no excuse for becoming France, and we should turn in Old Glory right now and seek a retirement home for former great powers that no longer care about freedom and the Constitution.
Rubio, other than a few minutes with Chris Christie (a man who never once had the stones to turn his formidable guns against Trump) has had a marvelous string of debate moments, but tonight was a Rubio we have not seen before, and he took it to another level, making complete fools of people who claimed as late as this afternoon that Rubio would not attack Trump tonight. Instead, he seems to have decided to lull Trump into a false sense of security by holding his fire until he could see the whites of Trump’s eyes. Rubio went hard after the contrast between his own humble origins and Trump’s rich-kid silver-spoon upbringing (and what a mockery it makes of Trump’s claim to be the working-class hero), sneering that if Trump hadn’t inherited so much money he’d be selling watches on the street in Manhattan. Trump was reduced to sputtering that he only got a one million dollar loan from his daddy:
RUBIO: Here’s a guy that inherited $200 million. If he hadn’t inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now?
TRUMP: No, no, no.
RUBIO: Selling watches in (inaudible)
TRUMP: (Inaudible) I took…
RUBIO: That’s where he would be.
TRUMP: That is so wrong. We’ll work on that. I took $1 million and I turned into $10 billion.
RUBIO: Oh, OK. One million.
TRUMP: I borrowed $1 million…
Rubio laughed at Trump, and not for the last time, and Trump spent a whole lot of the debate with a sour look on his face and his chin raised in the air, the unmistakable look of a man who is not enjoying being mocked by his social inferiors. Rubio bored in on this contrast in talking about immigration and how Trump’s record is nothing like his rhetoric:
And so even today, 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.
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.
A second thing that both Rubio and Cruz did in different ways to counteract Trump’s incessent lies and habit of yelling over people who get too close to exposing them was to dare the voters to go Google what they were talking about. Rubio did this twice with Trump’s hiring of illegal Polish immigrants, and Cruz did it with Trump’s general election poll standing against Hillary, specifically referencing RealClearPolitics.com’s poll averages.
A third important thing was that Rubio laid off Cruz almost entirely, except to defend himself. And Cruz launched far fewer attacks than before against Rubio, although almost all his weakest hits against Trump were when he tried to shoehorn 2-for-1 attacks on Rubio into his answers. Cruz demolished Trump on electability, which if you’d asked at any point in this campaign would have been the last thing you’d expect Ted Cruz to be talking about at a debate on the eve of Super Tuesday:
You know, it’s interesting — Donald went — went on — on an extended tirade about the polls, but he didn’t respond to any of the substance. He has yet to say — he can release past year’s tax returns. He can do it tomorrow.
He doesn’t want to do it, because presumably there’s something in there…
CRUZ: … that is bad. If there’s nothing, release them tomorrow.
CRUZ: They’re already prepared. The only reason he’s not releasing them…
TRUMP: You — you don’t…
CRUZ: … is because he’s afraid that he will get hit.
TRUMP: I’m not afraid (inaudible).
CRUZ: You know, Marco made reference earlier to the litigation against Trump University. It’s a fraud case. His lawyers have scheduled the trial for July.
I want you to think about, if this man is the nominee, having the Republican nominee…
… on the stand in court, being cross-examined about whether he committed fraud. You don’t think the mainstream media will go crazy on that?
And on substance, how do we nominate a candidate who has said Hillary Clinton was the best secretary of state of modern times, who agreed with her on foreign policy, who agrees with Bernie Sanders on health care, who agreed with Barack Obama on the Wall Street bailout?
BLITZER: All right (ph)…
CRUZ: If — we’ve got to win this election, and we can’t do it with a candidate who agrees with Hillary Clinton and can’t take it to her and beat her on the debate stage and at the polls.
BLITZER: Mr. Trump. Mr, — hold on. Mr. Trump — Mr. Trump…
TRUMP: … first of all, he’s talking about the polls. I’m beating him awfully badly in the polls.
CRUZ: But you’re not beating Hillary. You’re not beating Hillary.
TRUMP: Well, then, if I can’t — if — hey, if I can’t beat her, you’re really going to get killed, aren’t you?
[TRUMP, attributed on the rush transcript to CRUZ]: So — so let me ask you this, because you’re really getting beaten badly. I know you’re embarrassed — I know you’re embarrassed, but keep fighting — keep swinging, man (ph). Swing for the fences.
Let me just tell you — let me just tell you, the Trump University case is a civil case. Not a — it’s a civil case. It’s a case where people want to try and get — it’s a case that is nonsense.
It’s something I could have settled many times. I could settle it right now for very little money, but I don’t want to do it out of principle. The people that took the course all signed — most — many — many signed report cards saying it was fantastic, it was wonderful, it was beautiful.
As — and believe me, I’ll win that case. That’s an easy case. Civil case. Number two, as far as the taxes are concerned, I’m being audited. It’s a very routine audit, and it’s very unfair, because I’ve been audited for, I think, over 12 years.
Every year, because of the size of my company, which is very, very large, I’m being audited — which is a very large company.
BLITZER: Thank you.
TRUMP: I’m being audited 12 years in a row, at least.
Now, until that audit’s done, and I don’t think anybody would blame me, I’m not giving it…
CRUZ: … the years you’re not being audited? Will you release those years?
BLITZER: Gentlemen, gentlemen, thank you.
TRUMP: (inaudible) audited for those years.
CRUZ: Which years? Which years are you being audited?
Probably the single best moment of the debate was when Rubio basically ripped out Trump’s intestines, wrapped them around his neck and set them on fire over healthcare after a typical Trump answer that blamed Cruz and Rubio for writing Obamacare (editor’s note – lol) and making it too friendly to the insurers (one of several times Rubio openly mocked Trump for not knowing what he was talking about):
RUBIO: You may not be aware of this, Donald, because you don’t follow this stuff very closely, but here’s what happened. When they passed Obamacare they put a bailout fund in Obamacare. All these lobbyists you keep talking about, they put a bailout fund in the law that would allow public money to be used, taxpayer money, to bail out companies when they lost money.
And, we led the effort and wiped out that bailout fund. The insurance companies are not in favor of me, they hate that. They’re suing that now to get that bailout money put back in.
Here’s what you didn’t hear in that answer, and this is important guys, this is an important thing. What is your plan? I understand the lines around the state, whatever that means. This is not a game where you draw maps…
TRUMP: … And, you don’t know what it means…
RUBIO: … What is your plan, Mr. Trump?
RUBIO: What is your plan on healthcare?
TRUMP: You don’t know.
TRUMP: … The biggest problem…
RUBIO: … What’s your plan…
TRUMP: … The biggest problem, I’ll have you know…
RUBIO: … What’s your plan…
TRUMP: … You know, I watched him meltdown two weeks ago with Chris Christie. I got to tell you, the biggest problem he’s got is he really doesn’t know about the lines. The biggest thing we’ve got, and the reason we’ve got no competition, is because we have lines around the state, and you have essentially….
RUBIO: … We already mentioned that (inaudible) plan, I know what that is, but what else is part of your plan…
TRUMP: … You don’t know much…
RUBIO: … So, you’re only thing is to get rid of the lines around the states. What else is part of your healthcare plan…
TRUMP: … The lines around the states…
RUBIO: … That’s your only plan…
TRUMP: … and, it was almost done — not now…
RUBIO: … Alright, (inaudible)…
TRUMP: … Excuse me. Excuse me.
RUBIO: … His plan. That was the plan…
TRUMP: … You get rid of the lines, it brings in competition. So, instead of having one insurance company taking care of New York, or Texas, you’ll have many. They’ll compete, and it’ll be a beautiful thing.
RUBIO: So, that’s the only part of the plan? Just the lines?
TRUMP: The nice part of the plan — you’ll have many different plans. You’ll have competition, you’ll have so many different plans.
RUBIO: Now he’s repeating himself.
TRUMP: No, no, no.
(LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)
TRUMP: (inaudible) I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago…
RUBIO: … I just watched you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago…
TRUMP: I watched him meltdown on the stage like that, I’ve never seen it in anybody…
BASH: … Let’s stay focused on the subject…
TRUMP: … I thought he came out of the swimming pool…
RUBIO: … I see him repeat himself every night, he says five things, everyone’s dumb, he’s gonna make America great again…
BASH: … Senator Rubio…
RUBIO: … We’re going to win, win win, he’s winning in the polls…
BASH: … Senator Rubio, please.
RUBIO: … And the lines around the state.
RUBIO: … Every night.
BASH: Senator Rubio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tell the truth, I tell the truth.
BASH: Senator Rubio, you will have time to respond if you would just let Mr. Trump respond to what you’ve just posed to him…
RUBIO: … Yeah, he’s going to give us his plan now, right? OK…
BASH: … If you could talk a little bit more about your plan. I know you talked about…
TRUMP: … We’re going to have many different plans because…
BASH: … Can you be a little specific…
TRUMP: … competition…
RUBIO: … He’s done it again.
TRUMP: There is going to be competition among all of the states, and the insurance companies. They’re going to have many, many different plans. BASH: Is there anything else you would like to add to that…
TRUMP: No, there’s nothing to add.
TRUMP: What is to add?
It got even better than this later when Cruz and Rubio went at Trump simultaneously, despite Wolf Blitzer’s desperate efforts to rescue Trump and throw some questions to the two pointless “candidates” at the edges of the stage – Rubio at one point interjected with perfect comedic timing in an exchange where Cruz had Trump spluttering about his support for socialized medicine:
RUBIO: Well, can I just clarify something?
BLITZER: Gentleman, please.
RUBIO: Wolf, no. I want to clarify something.
BLITZER: Gentlemen please. I want to move on.
RUBIO: This is a Republican debate, right? Because that attack about letting people die in the streets…
Both Rubio and Cruz battered Trump on his “negotiation” mantra, Cruz whacking him for being an unprincipled dealmaker who financed John Kerry and Jimmy Carter, Rubio for thinking he could do business with the Palestinians like he was negotiating a lease:
BLITZER: We’re going to get to North Korea in a moment. But Senator Rubio, what’s wrong with the U.S. being an honest broker in a negotiation, as Mr. Trump is proposing?
RUBIO: Because — and I don’t know if Donald realizes this. I’m sure it’s not his intent perhaps. But the position you’ve taken is an anti-Israel position. And here’s why. Because you cannot be an honest broker in a dispute between two sides in which one of the sides is constantly acting in bad faith. The Palestinian Authority has walked away from multiple efforts to make peace, very generous offers from the Israelis. Instead, here’s what the Palestinians do. They teach their four- year-old children that killing Jews is a glorious thing. Here’s what Hamas does. They launch rockets and terrorist attacks again Israel on an ongoing basis. The bottom line is, a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, given the current makeup of the Palestinians, is not possible.
And so the next president of the United States needs to be someone like me who will stand firmly on the side of Israel. I’m not — I’m not going to sit here and say, “Oh, I’m not on either side.” I will be on a side. I will be on Israel’s side every single day because they are the only pro-American, free enterprise democracy in the entire Middle East.
BLITZER: Mr. Trump?
TRUMP: I’m a negotiator. I’ve done very well over the years through negotiation. It’s very important that we do that. In all fairness, Marco is not a negotiator. I watched him melt down and I’ll tell you, it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. He’s not going down — excuse me…
RUBIO: He thinks a Palestinian is a real estate deal.
TRUMP: … wait a minute, and these people may even be tougher than Chris Christie. OK?
RUBIO: The Palestinians are not a real estate deal, Donald.
TRUMP: OK, no, no, no — a deal is a deal. Let me tell you that. I learned a long time ago.
RUBIO: A deal is not a deal when you’re dealing with terrorists. Have you ever negotiated with terrorists?
TRUMP: You are not a negotiator. You are not a negotiator.
TRUMP: And, with your thinking, you will never bring peace. You will never bring peace…
RUBIO: … Donald, might be able to (inaudible) Palestinians and Arabs, but it’s not a real estate deal…
TRUMP: … Excuse me, I want to be able to bring peace…
BLITZER: … Senator.
TRUMP: He will never be able to do it. I think I may be able to do it, although I will say this. Probably the toughest deal of any kind is that particular deal.
If anything, all of these exchanges were more devastating to watch live than they read on paper.
(Irony is truly dead if Donald Trump can go on about how “demeaning the neighbors” is a bad thing, or ramble about how the problem with our healthcare system is that we have borders that prevent competition).
Did any of this mean anything? Will it matter? Well, only the voters can decide. But the two best conservatives in the field acted like it tonight, and exposed the GOP frontrunner as an ignorant, thin-skinned fraud who belongs in the other party’s debate. No supporter of Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz could go home disappointed tonight: they held nothing back and left it all on the floor. They were commanding, they were eloquent, they were funny, they were informed, they spoke from the heart about America’s promise and its challenges, and a spoiled rich kid blustered at them out of his overblown sense of entitlement that they should sit down and get out of his way.
If that doesn’t make a difference, maybe America isn’t really meant to have two parties anymore.