Donald Trump is a the clear cut winner of Thursday night’s Republican debate in Houston, Texas according to a Drudge Report Poll. Of the 440,000 who took the poll, 56% felt Trump won. Ted Cruz had 20% and Marco Rubio had 16%. Trump had 247,401 votes, almost twice as many as Rubio and Cruz combined.
Trump’s showing in the polls was a result of his performance in the debate, fending off petty attacks from Cruz and Rubio and launching swift and brutal retaliations.
In a night that started off with former President George H.W. Bush’s giving giving the execution sign to his establishment candidate, Marco Rubio, it was Rubio who ended up with the most blood on the floor by the end of the night.
In an early debate volley, Trump threw his endorsement by Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s endorsement of his candidacy.
“Well, I’m very glad that Ted mentioned Arizona because probably the toughest man on borders is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and two days ago he totally endorsed me, so, thank you,” he said to Wolf Blitzer after Ted Cruz used Arizona’s handling of the immigration crisis as a model for his own plan.
When Rubio tried to invoke the name of Mitt Romney to push his support of the Republican establishment, Trump fired back.
“I criticized Mitt Romney for losing the election. He should have won that election. He had a failed president. He ran a terrible campaign. He was a terrible candidate,” Trump said.
Rubio continued baiting Trump, criticizing a contracting firm Trump hired back in the early 1980’s Trump Tower project. Trump said he had no knowledge the contractor had hired illegal immigrants, but the case was later settled out of court in an amicable agreement for all parties involved.
But, it didn’t end with that.
“You hired some workers from Poland,” Rubio chimed.
“No, no, I’m the only one on the stage that’s hired people. You haven’t hired anybody,” Trump replied. The audience erupted in applause. “And by the way, I’ve hired — and by the way, I’ve hired tens of thousands of people over at my job. You’ve hired nobody.”
“Yes, you’ve hired a thousand from another country,” Rubio said.
“You haven’t hired one person, you liar,” Trump said.
Trump didn’t take accusations launched by Ted Cruz well either, but dished out a rebuttal that once again had the audience cheering.
After Cruz jumped on Rubio’s immigrant labor bandwagon, Trump fired directly back at Cruz.
“I’ve had an amazing relationship with politicians — with politicians both Democrat, Republican, because I was a businessman. As one magazine said, he’s a world-class businessman; he was friendly with everybody. I got along with everybody,” Trump said. “You get along with nobody. You don’t have one Republican — you don’t have one Republican senator, and you work with them every day of your life, although you skipped a lot of time. These are minor details. But you don’t have one Republican senator backing you; not one. You don’t have the endorsement of one Republican senator and you work with these people. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
On the subject of Israel, Trump said, “Well, look, my response is very simple. There is nobody on this stage that has done more for Israel than I have. Nobody. You might say, you might talk, you’re politicians, all talk, no action.”
When asked why his opponents wouldn’t be able to negotiate peace between Israel and its neighbors, Trump said Rubio and Cruz would not be able to do what most politicians before them could not do.
“What I’ve seen up here — I mean, first of all, this guy is a choke artist, and this guy is a liar. You have a combination,” Trump said about Rubio and Cruz. “For the obvious reason, and he can’t do it because he doesn’t know how to tell the truth. Other than that, I rest my case.”
Trump also made it clear that he had previously donated to the campaigns of Cruz and Rubio.
“I know politicians — I know politicians, believe it or not, better than you do. And it’s not good,” he said. “I funded you. I funded him. Can you believe it? I funded this guy. I gave him a check. You know why? I didn’t want to, but he sent me his book with his autograph.”
“Yeah, you gave me $5,000,” Cruz replied. “You’re welcome to have the check back.”
Feeling left out in the free-for-all that went on beside him all night, Dr. Ben Carson said, “Can somebody attack me, please?” His comment was met with laughter from the audience.