Finally: Rubio and Cruz team up to bring down Trump in GOP debate

AP Photo / David J. Phillip

AP Photo / David J. Phillip

Someone finally got through to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz: The imperative in the GOP primary is bringing down Donald Trump.

Very early on, Rubio showed his aggressiveness by challenging Trump on a topic he has dominated through the primary: immigration. In his answer to a question about immigration reform, Rubio accused Trump of hiring “a significant number of people from other countries to take jobs that Americans could have filled.” How did Trump respond? He more or less confirmed it:

“As far as the people that I’ve hired in various parts of Florida during the absolute prime season, like Palm Beach and other locations, you could not get help. It’s the up season. People didn’t want to have part-time jobs. There were part-time jobs, very seasonal, 90-day jobs, 120-day jobs, and you couldn’t get.

“Everybody agrees with me on that. They were part-time jobs. You needed them, or we just might as well close the doors, because you couldn’t get help in those hot, hot sections of Florida.”

Rubio then hit Trump for having to pay a $1 million fine for hiring illegally present Polish construction workers for his hotels: “Look it up,” he told viewers. Later, the two had this exchange:

TRUMP: “I have to say, he lied this time. He lied. 100 percent. 100 percent.”

RUBIO: “You lied about the Polish workers.”

TRUMP: “Yes, yes, yes. 38 years ago.”

RUBIO: “Oh, he lied 38 years ago. All right, I guess there’s a statute of limitation on lies.”

Rubio also went after Trump for his lack of specifics on, well, pretty much everything. Specifically on health care, Rubio argued Trump had offered nothing more than allowing insurers to compete across state lines. There were a couple of revealing exchanges. First, between the two candidates:

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: “All right. 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. (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…”

RUBIO: “I see him repeat himself every night, he says five things: Everyone’s dumb; he’s gonna make America great again; we’re going to win, win win; he’s winning in the polls; and the lines around the state. Every night.”

Then moments later came this between Trump and moderator Dana Bash:

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. What is there to add?”

Oh, I don’t know: Maybe everything?

When Rubio wasn’t hitting Trump on his lack of specifics, Cruz was hammering his lack of conservative credentials. He questioned Trump’s trustworthiness when it comes to choosing solid judicial nominees. He pointed out Trump’s many past donations to Democratic candidates, including John Kerry in 2004. He reiterated that Trump supports Planned Parenthood (which Trump confirmed). He called out Trump for being a past advocate of socialized medicine.

While the Trump campaign in general and much of Thursday night’s debate specifically have been reminiscent of a WWE match, the Rubio-Cruz effort didn’t only remind me of a tag team. Maybe it’s because the March 1 primaries, including Georgia’s, have been branded the “SEC primary,” but I was also put in the mind of the old BCS system. I’m talking about rooting for one of your rivals to beat another because it ultimately helps your own. That seemed to be the guiding principle for both Cruz and Rubio during the debate.

Reader Comments 0

43 comments
RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Well the thing that struck me about the attacks on Trump was how disingenuous they were.  Rubio and Cruz have consistently pushed increasing the number of H1B and H2B visas.  Yet, last night they admitted that these things caused Americans to lose jobs and wages to suffer.  


Previously Maria Bartoromo tried three times one Sunday to get Paul Ryan to explain how he could support increasing these visas and in doing so hurt American workers.  He dodged the question three times and changed the subject every time to illegal immigration and she would try to drag him back to the visa increases but he wouldn't go there.  He just said reducing those numbers was a non starter.  He would never even attempt to explain why they benefited America.  I think what he didn't want to say was his owners/donors want them increased and they are going to get what they paid for. 


There is a current bill something with the name squared in it that seeks to double or triple these visa limits and Rubio is a sponsor, so to attack Trump for using these visas was disingenuous.  


But the bottom line is as I have said before, Trump has the big MO, a commanding lead, and voters who don't care much about specifics.  Glad to see that Rubio has some fight in him finally, when he is absolutely about to have to get out of the race, but I don't think he changed the mind of the voters in FL, whom he has previously betrayed.  The voters just want someone who will take on the establishment and do something different than what we have come to expect, basically nothing.  Unfortunate that the establishment has betrayed and rejected the voters wishes for so long, which has left us in a place where some charlatan like Trump is going to get the nomination. 

lvg
lvg

@RafeHollister Cons are in favor of unlimited immigration if it is good immigrants- from Cuba and communist countries (Tsarnaevs), Saudis ( 9-11) and high tech workers to do jobs at lower wages than Americans

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

Gov. Christie endorses Trump.  Pretty Boy Marcobot McStooge muses about what could have been. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Too little


Much too late.


Trump is a hero to the uneducated Republican voter now. No debate performance is going to change that.


He still wins this thing easily.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@Hedley_Lammar

And if Trump is the nominee, he'll get plenty of support from the uneducated Democrat voters too.  The ones in the middle who make just barely enough to pay income taxes and not get many/any of the handouts, but not enough to escape Fishtown.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@Hedley_Lammar  I'm not sure there are that many pure  "Republican voters" remaining. They  appear, so far at least, to be repudiating the traditional GOP party line in favor of the maverick NY billionaire, who is running as a (R) purely out of expediency - much like the non-Democrat Sen. Sanders is masquerading as a (D) .

sssinff
sssinff


[unintelligible yelling]

Pretty much says it all.

MarkVV
MarkVV

“Rubio accused Trump of hiring “a significant number of people from other countries to take jobs that Americans could have filled.” How did Trump respond? He more or less confirmed it.’

Did he? Only one part of it. Trump rejected the claim that those were “jobs that Americans could have filled:”

“As far as the people that I’ve hired in various parts of Florida during the absolute prime season, like Palm Beach and other locations, you could not get help. It’s the up season. People didn’t want to have part-time jobs. There were part-time jobs, very seasonal, 90-day jobs, 120-day jobs, and you couldn’t get.

Everybody agrees with me on that. They were part-time jobs. You needed them, or we just might as well close the doors, because you couldn’t get help in those hot, hot sections of Florida.”

Again, it is up to the voters what they believe is the real life. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV Moments later, in a section I didn't mention here, Rubio said there were newspaper articles quoting people who said they'd have taken those jobs. FWIW.

MarkVV
MarkVV

Predicting the effect of the debate on Trump’s standing can be dangerous to one’s sanity, so I won’t even try. There were moments that seemed to show a difference between the way of thinking and expressing the thoughts between Trump, the businessman, and Rubio and Cruz, the politicians. One was the segment about healthcare, in which Trump followed his line of thoughts that seemed to be clear in his mind and did not seem to understand what Dana Bash and Rubio were asking. Apparently, when asking about his healthcare “plan” they had in mind an overall plan of healthcare in the country, a counterpart of Obamacare, while Trump apparently thought obvious that he had in mind a system similar to the situation before Obamacare based on free competition of insurance companies, expanded to allow competition across the state lines, perhaps with something done about “preexisting conditions,” and some unspecified help to those who cannot afford the insurance premiums. (He would not “let people die in the streets”). Thus in his understanding “plans” meant all the individual insurance plans as offered by the insurance companies: “The nice part of the plan — you’ll have many different plans. You’ll have competition, you’ll have so many different plans.” Professional political observers may debate the merits of Rubio’s fancy plans of “advanceable, refundable tax credits” etc., but it is questionable whether those would have much weight in the mind of current Trump’s supporters against his simple vision, regardless of its childish character.

lvg
lvg

@Wascatlady @MarkVV Trump is so stupid to not know Reagancare keeps people from dying in the streets. Not addressed is fact that rural hospitals are closing in red states that refused excess Medicaid and no longer get Hill-Burton federal funds for emergency  care. ie. here in Georgia where religious right to discriminate is much more important.




Too complicated- easier to just say you will abolish  Obamacare first day. Sounds Macho to the low voltage cons.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@MarkVV No one wants people to die in the streets. However, several candidates would be happy if they kicked off quietly in their hovels.

Caius
Caius

Thinking on Trump and Sanders and their campaigns that government is broken, doesn't work anymore and they will fix it. From Trump's website - "America needs strong leadership. Politicians can talk but they don’t get things done. I have a strong track record of success and if elected I will do what I have promised to do: ‪#‎MakeAmericaGreatAgain‬!"


There is a vacancy on the SCOTUS.  The Constitution lays out a pretty simple remedy to fix the vacancy. The Senate leadership as of today has decided not to address the vacancy.

Is this playing into Trump's hands? - "Politicians can talk but they don’t get things done."

Is the Senate's position " strong leadership" as described by Trump? Is the Senate going to "get things done"?  Is the Senate part of the problem and not part of the solution?


Before a bunch of you jump on me I realize that Trump prefers to keep the seat vacant so he can make the appointment (his sister?).


We addressed this issue earlier this week in Kyle's column on the vacancy.





lvg
lvg

Since the three contenders for top clown spot in the GOP think immigration is the most important litmus test  for true conservatives, I would like to see just one answer the questions of what happens to anchor children whose illegal parents are being deported- deport US citizens (Cruz and Rubio included)?And none truly answered the health care question of whether employers should have any responsibility for employees health care and receive a deduction for employee health plan. None also answered the question of who pays for the uninsured and should the ER be the main provider of medical care for the poor?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@lvg

Seems like your gripe is with the moderators.


And here's a common sense answer to all your questions:  Big boys and girls take care of their own responsibilities.

TicTacs
TicTacs

@lvg Rubio IS the definition of an anchor baby,  neither parent was a citizen when he was born. (In the US, a real natural born anchor baby at that).  Cruz is a natural born Canadian, and lived there for 4 years after birth, parents lived there 3 years prior to that, not a natural born American at all, but a naturalized citizen later in his life.  

Caius
Caius

"Rubio argued Trump had offered nothing more than allowing insurers to compete across state lines."

As I recall Obamacare allows insurance companies to compete across state lines.  The problem is 50 states with conflicting laws.  Not sure Congress has the constitutional authority to correct that.

As I understand it from several interviews he has made Trump's healthcare plan is simply Obamacare on steroids covering millions more.  And if one cannot afford the plans the government will pay for it entirely instead of just giving you a subsidy.


Bottom line is that if you like Obamacare you will love Trumpcare and if you do not like Obamacare you will detest Trumpcare.


But hey, every 4 years the American voters in their wisdom elect a new president.  That time is upon us once again.

TicTacs
TicTacs

@Caius Trump won't be the president, just another GOP that flamed out like Romney....

Steve13
Steve13

Trump showed again that he knows very little about what it takes to govern this great nation.  He is not going "to make us great again" because we are still a great nation.  We have slid a little over the last eight years, but we are still a great nation.  He is neither a Republican nor a conservative.  He is a bully, just like our current president.  A vote for Trump is a vote for a reality TV host.

TicTacs
TicTacs

This IS the GOP, and Trump is the nominee.   Kasich is the thinking republican's man and his numbers show how many actually think.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

So...Trump is against state rights!


The debate last night could be titled " Three Babies and a Man". Kasich was the man; Carson was non existent.

ohenry3
ohenry3

@RoadScholar  HEY!!! You only said that about Dr. Carson because you are R......... Oh nevermind, you are RIGHT!!!! LOL

Tycho
Tycho

It was embarrassing to try to watch these 3 Tea Party candidates and embarrassing to read this article trying to find any redeemable quality in any of them. Another commentator got it right..... they looked and sounded like 3 guys who rode to the debate on their Schwinn bikes with cards in the spokes. Children who need a time-out.

JKToole
JKToole

@Tycho You're showing your age, lol. That analogy is one that I can remember very vividly and,  what it meant to a child.

lvg
lvg

Nice clown fight between Rubio, Trump and Cruz last night but very little of substance and and a lot of ignorance on display. Kasich and even Carson acted knowledgeably and presidential on most important issues while clowns throwing dirt at each other.

Trump displayed total ignorance on current health care laws in effect for care of uninsured in hospitals and clinics  and caps  on insurance company profits in Obamacare as well as state insurance regulations. Cruz would not answer crucial question on deportation of illegals who have American born children. Rubio got nailed on his underworld connections and lack of any business knowledge.This party needs to break up and let the conservatives sell their snake oil and anarchy on their own as a separate party.

packoravens
packoravens

@ajc lots of chatter during debate about Kasich's strong performance as well

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

It's could give Trump a boost. In the end, he recovered and shut them down.

Aside from that, it looked like the "establishment" was trying to take him down. That's favorable for him as an outsider. The outsiders don't care about his lack of specifics and and Trump promised to build a wall on immigration.

Maybe it worked, but he probably locked up more voters. Republicans hate the Republican party. You can't win by pointing out one of the candidates isn't really Republican. That helps him. You can only change that by fixing the party or positions.

I'm starting to hope the establishment runs a third party candidate. Rick Perry or whoever will win like 5%. It's what the Republicans need to understand it's the policies that are killing them.

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

I thought Obama was weak, and he is making America weak. Is he a dictator bully or a wimp afraid to fight?

I can't keep up with these Republican narratives on Obama.

Trump is winning the Republican nomination for President. He's definitely a Republican and he is who the Republican base wants.

You are in the minority of your own party if you disagree with him. It's about to be his party completely off he wins the nomination. What will you do when that happens?

Here's_to_Blue
Here's_to_Blue

@JFMcNamara  "I can't keep up with these Republican narratives on Obama."  Neither can the Republicans.  It's whatever fits their argument at the moment.

Steve13
Steve13

@JFMcNamara  Trump didn't recover anything.  He is a bully just like our current Prez.  He is a "reality TV show" host who wants to take the cameras to D.C.  Scarey!  He is certainly not a Republican.  He is not anything.