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Cruz, Rubio team up against Trump in Republican debate

Marco Rubio attacked Donald Trump finally and ferociously at the Republican presidential debate on Thursday, turning in a performance long expected of him.

world Updated: Feb 27, 2016 01:39 IST
HT Correspondent
(From left) Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at the Republican debate on Thursday night.
(From left) Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at the Republican debate on Thursday night.(AP Photo)

Marco Rubio attacked Donald Trump finally and ferociously at the Republican presidential debate on Thursday, turning in a performance long expected of him.

Rubio, the Republican party establishment’s best and last candidate to stop Trump, lit into the frontrunner from the start, attacking him, interrupting him and mocking him.

This was the party’s last debate before Super Tuesday on March 1, when 12 states hold their nominating contests, primaries or caucuses, on the same day.

In his first shot at Trump, Rubio told him “you’ve hired a significant number of people from other countries to take jobs that Americans could have filled”.

The reference was to a news report that since 2010, 300 American citizens applied for jobs at Trump’s high-end Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida but only 17 got hired.

On the other hand, the club pursued 500 visas for foreign workers. “You hired some workers from Poland…,” Rubio told Trump later in the exchange, but in a different context.

Trump, who has made bringing back American jobs shipped abroad a major election plank, said the club hired foreign workers for temporary jobs, for which there no takers locally.

Rubio attacked Trump on other issues as well, joined by Ted Cruz, which gave the impression they were ganging up on the frontrunner, who hit back by calling them names.

“This guy is a choke artist,” Trump said after one exchange pointing to Rubio and, turning to Cruz, added, “And this guy is a liar. You have a combination…”

The Republican party establishment, which wants to stop Trump, has been waiting for Rubio to show he can stand up to the frontrunner and take him on.

The Florida senator, it’s been said, is their best and last hope. Though he has yet to win a nominating contest, it has been argued, he will do much better in a two-man race against Trump.

He made his first move in that direction on Thursday night, but some experts wondered if it was too late. Trump has already won three of the four nominating contests so far.

And he leads the field with 33.2% in the RealClearPolitics average of national polls, followed by Cruz with 20.3%, Rubio 16.7%, John Kasich 9.3% and Ben Carson 7.5%.