The top ranking Republican candidates were not the big winners in the third GOP presidential debate on Wednesday night in Boulder, Colorado. The much anticipated face-off between new front-runner Ben Carson and number two Donald Trump fell flat while the lower ranking candidates stood out.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz were among the big winners of the night with strong performances. Senator Marco Rubio who currently ranks 10% with Iowa supporters according to a recent Monmouth University Poll went on the offensive when Jeb Bush (8%) attacked Rubio’s absentee record in the Senate.
“Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally the Senate, what is it, like a French workweek? You get like three days where you have to show up? You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job,” said Jeb Bush.
“There are a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck in Florida as well. They are looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day.”
Rubio fired back using Senator John McCain’s senate record as an example. In recent weeks, Bush said he was inspired by McCain’s campaign.
“Do you know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that furious comeback that you’re now modeling after? - well, let me tell you, I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record. The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you,” said Rubio.
“My campaign is going to be about the future of America. It’s not going to be about attacking anyone else on this stage. I will continue to have tremendous admiration and respect for Governor Bush. I’m not running against Governor Bush. I’m not running against anyone on this stage. I am running for President.”
Senator Rubio also fervently deflected a question about his personal debts including student loans by comparing his struggles with everyday Americans.
“Here's the truth. I didn't inherit any money. My dad was a bartender, my mother was a maid. They worked hard to provide us the chance at a better life. They didn't save enough money for us to go to school. I had to work my way through school. I had to borrow money to go to school. – I know what it's like to owe that money, and we've worked hard,” said Rubio. "I'm not worried about my finances, I'm worried about the finances of everyday Americans.”
Instead of answering a question on the debt limit, Senator Ted Cruz criticized the debate moderators which was met with applause from the audience.
“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media,” said Cruz. “This is not a cage match. And, you look at the questions -- "Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?" "Ben Carson, can you do math?" "John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?" "Marco Rubio, why don't you resign?" "Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?”
Donald Trump who fell from first place to second with 18% support this week, didn’t have much air time during the debate except for two memorable moments. The first solidified Trump’s pro-gun stance, as he claims to have a permit to carry a gun and does “carry on occasion, sometimes a lot.” The billionaire businessman also responded to a recent statement he made after the Oregon mass shooting on October 1st, “If you had a couple of teachers with guns, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.” Trump explained gun-free zones are “target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill – I think gun-free zones are a catastrophe. They’re a feeding frenzy for sick people.”
In his closing remarks, Trump suggested his teamwork with Ben Carson to boycott the length of the debate along with his deal making skills proves he can do wonders for the country.
“We called Ben, he was with me 100%. We called in, we said, that’s it. We’re not doing it. They lost a lot of money, everybody said it couldn’t be done. Everybody said it was going to be three hours, three and a half, including them, and in about two minutes I renegotiated it so we can get the hell out of here. Not bad,” said Trump. “And, I’ll do that with the country. We will make America great again.”
The next GOP Presidential Primary Debate will be moderated by FOX Business and The Wall Street Journal in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on November 10th.