At Thursday evening’s Fox News GOP debate, four candidates remained — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich — and they couldn’t be more different from each other. Each sought to convince more voters before five states (Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, and Nebraska) cast their primary or caucus votes this weekend. These guys provided more than enough action on their own, so no one missed the absent Ben Carson, but he never got much air time anyway.
Plenty of madness went down in this debate, including Donald Trump talking fondly about his penis. In addition, Bill O’Reilly may have been drunk, and Ted Cruz may have swallowed his own tooth. Once again, the candidates took each other out despite trying (very hard) not to do so. Of course, Megyn Kelly enjoyed sparring hard with Trump after winning the last Fox News debate when he backed out like a coward. Kelly is still the same lady who grilled Trump on his “disparaging” remarks about women and got threatened in the process. This time, she really let Trump have it.
Even when Kelly briefly let up on Trump, the other guys picked on him, so he was on the defense for the entire evening. Kasich left him alone, but Cruz and Rubio gleefully tag-teamed him. Trump couldn’t cope and gave his opponents nicknames as a defense mechanism. The most awkward moment happened right here with these fist bumps.
The most important question came last in this debate, but first, let’s talk about these men’s performances. Rubio may be down, but he’s certainly not out. Together, he and Cruz made Trump’s evening pretty uncomfortable. How did Trump hold up?
Donald Trump: The Shakespearean Character
Everyone came for Trump last night (except Kasich), and Trump knew it was coming. Perhaps it was for this reason that he deflected by talking about his penis, which was received differently all across the board. The internet was amused, the sample audience members interviewed by Fox News felt it was a disgrace, and the Fox News commentators spoke of how “Shakespearean” Trump behaved during this seminal moment of the debate. Should we do a quick replay? Sure, why not. This clip is a perfect example of how these candidates pretended not to attack each other and did it anyway.
From there, Megyn Kelly showed no mercy, especially when it came to tearing down Trump’s constant flip-flopping and the Trump University fraud lawsuits. That was a merciless approach that made Trump discover his sweat pores.
Another difficult Trump moment involved Kelly and Rubio asking Trump why he refused to call upon the New York Times to release an audio tape of an off-the-record discussion. The matter boiled down to Kelly questioning Trump’s “flexibility” on immigration and deportation. In response, Trump tried to convince everyone that his changing stances are a sign of a good negotiator. He never discussed immigration or any substantial issue (beyond his usual “wall” comments), but he only said “it wouldn’t be fair” to release the taped conversation. So, his professed love for “give and take” ended up being an excuse for Trump habitually wavering on the issues.
Marco Rubio: Little Marco
Early on in the debate, Rubio was asked to answer why he previously shamed Trump for his insults, but indulged in mean tweets and hand comments. Rubio answered that Trump mocked too many people, including a disabled reporter. Rubio reasoned, “If anyone deserves to be attacked that way, it’s Donald Trump.” The “Little Marco” nickname slipped out of Trump’s mouth on several occasions when Rubio mentioned the failed Trump Steaks business and Trump University. Trump answered, “Don’t worry about it, Little Marco.” Rubio jokingly labeled him “Big Donald” in return. Rubio also got a nice shot in when Cruz told Trump, “Breathe.” Rubio added, “When they’re done with the yoga, can I answer a question?” Cruz answered with a jab against yoga, but Rubio joked of Trump, “Well, he’s really flexible, so you never know.” Burn.
Elsewhere, Rubio let Trump have it over foreign policy and how Trump may think the “nuclear triad” is the name of a rock band. Then Rubio claimed Trump is a “con man,” and Trump responded that “the real con artist is Senator Marco Rubio.” Why? “He doesn’t go to vote,” and “the people of Florida wouldn’t elect him dog catcher.”
Rubio also went in one of his pet causes. He begged the moderators to return to the issues, but personal fights kept breaking out. At one point, Rubio went deep on the 2nd Amendment, which he believes in because “criminals will always be armed,” and they don’t follow existing laws. So, Rubio doesn’t want more gun laws. He simply wants families to be able to defend their safety, with firearms if necessary.
Ted Cruz: Lyin’ Ted
When Cruz pressed Trump once again to release his tax returns, Trump diverted by labeling the Texas senator as “Lyin’ Ted.” Cruz helped lay into Trump to a degree, but his main strategy was to let Rubio and Trump go at each other while sitting back and trying to look reasonable. It didn’t work, and perhaps Cruz’s lack of his usual hard-line conservative points of view may hurt him within his own voter base. Whatever the case, it sure was amusing to see Cruz chastise his greatest rival: “Donald, learn not to interrupt. It’s not complicated. Count to ten. Count to ten.” He also admonished, “Yelling and cursing at you doesn’t make you a tough guy.” Then Cruz sang the praises of Ronald Reagan and vowed to rebuild the military and make anyone who considers joining ISIS realize, “They are signing their death warrant.”
John Kasich: The Adult
Kasich acted as a placeholder at this debate. He swore up and down that he can catch crossover votes, and although he didn’t receive many questions, Kasich humblebragged plenty. During the longest stretch of time he was permitted to speak, Kasich called himself the only one who can beat Hillary Clinton because people tell him, “You’re the adult on the stage.” He insisted that folks also question why he has such little spotlight time during these debates. When pressed as to why Kasich stays in the race despite several single-percentage finishes on Super Tuesday, Kasich said he was tired of being discounted. He’s hanging on to that second-place finish in New Hampshire, thank you very much.
The Most Revealing Question Was The Final One
The most telling question happened after all the drama and wondered whether the candidates would abide by their vows to the GOP. Would they all support the chosen GOP nominee? Each candidate used their answer to illustrate their own platform. Rubio said he’d definitely support the nominee because he won’t stand for the Democrats, who are “a socialist” and someone “under FBI investigation” who also “lied” about Benghazi. Cruz said, yes, he would support the nominee “because I gave my word that I would.” Kasich didn’t argue because he never does, and Trump wondered, “Even if it’s not me?” He did concede that he’d support any GOP nominee, but his answer asserted his own virtually certain status as the winner. And Trump’s looking pretty darn certain right now.
Let’s sign off with the sight of two girls dabbing behind Megyn Kelly.