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This is a preview from Friday morning’s The Daily Shot newsletter. Subscribe here free of charge.
Last night the remaining Republican candidates gathered in Detroit for the 11th Republican primary debate. (Yes, there has really been 11 of them.) This one was hosted by Fox News and moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace. It was held at the Fox Theater, which seats over 5,000 people, so the crowd was big … and very loud.
We haven’t seen a count, but Donald Trump appeared to get the most questions. (He definitely spoke for the most time.) And Trump didn’t get fluff questions, but rather direct and detailed ones. He was hammered on specifics, including how he would balance the budget, accompanied by full-screen graphics pointing out that his numbers don’t add up. He was asked about his off-the-record conversation with the New York Times where he claimed he would compromise on immigration. (Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz called on him to ask the paper to release the audio recording.) Trump got questions about a hotel in Florida that hired foreign workers. He got questions about the recent open letter signed by several national security figures rejecting Trump’s rhetoric on torturing people and going after the families of foreign fighters. He got questions about contradicting himself. And Trump was on the receiving end of aggressive and specific questions about Trump University.
He was also punched from both sides by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. (It looked something like this.) Over and over, Rubio hammered Trump on everything from his clothing line being produced in China to the stubby finger thing. Trump responded by claiming his, ahem, manhood is not small. (Yes, really. Because that’s the state of our democracy right now.) Once again, Cruz let Rubio do the bloody work while taking beautifully aimed headshots, like asking Trump why he repeatedly donated to Hillary Clinton.
And then there’s Kasich. While Trump was fighting with Rubio, Cruz, and the moderators, Kasich was off doing his own thing. He played the odd man out who wasn’t part of the other stuff. Every time things got a little overheated, the moderators threw it to Kasich to calm things down.
The final question, before the closing statements, referenced one of the questions way back in the first debate seven months ago. Would the candidates support the eventual Republican nominee and forgo a third-party run?
Rubio answered first, saying yes, because the other party was going to nominate either a socialist or someone who is under investigation by the FBI. Which was a decent reply, but he kept going and jammed in Benghazi. Kasich said yes because of something about a “special circle.” (We can’t elaborate, because it made no earthly sense.) Trump said that, yes, he’d support a nominee, even if it wasn’t him. The real winner on this answer was Ted Cruz. He said yes, because he wanted to keep his word.
Of the four, Cruz probably did the best last night. He was rested, smooth, and on his game. (You know, how he always is.) Rubio looked very tired and had a touch of laryngitis. (Sidenote: Why the hell can’t Trump get laryngitis?) Kasich was off in Kasich-land. And The Donald spent the whole night fending off attacks from all sides. If you want to read the transcript, there’s one available here, but really, words on a page aren’t going to do it justice.
This is a preview from Friday morning’s The Daily Shot newsletter. Subscribe here free of charge.Published in