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US Politics & Election 2016 : Rubio, Trump, Cruz drop the gloves at Republican debate.

Brawling from the get-go, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz aggressively went after Donald Trump in Thursday night's Republican debate over the front-runner's positions on immigration, his privileged background and more. 
Marco Rubio, left, and fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump verbally spar at The University of Houston. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press) 
Rubio, the senator from Florida, took aim at the New York billionaire's history of hiring illegal immigrants.

"Donald Trump, Polish workers. Google it," said Rubio, drawing attention to allegations of Trump hiring immigrants who came to the United States illegally to work on his properties.

Trump shot back that he is the only one on the stage who has hired people, period.

Thursday's debate, with CNN and Telemundo as partners, is the only one of the season steered to a Spanish-speaking as well as English-speaking audience, so immigration and issues involving Hispanic voters were top of mind at the debate.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz also went after Trump's immigration record, accusing him of being late to the game.
Cruz, right, accused Trump of being late to the game on illegal immigration. (Michael Ciaglo-Pool/Getty Images) 
Cruz said that while he was running for Senate and promising to lead the fight against what he calls amnesty, Trump was busy donating cash to a group of senators backing a path to citizenship.

"Where was Donald? Cruz asked. "He was firing Dennis Rodman on Celebrity Apprentice. When you're funding open border politicians, you shouldn't be surprised when they fight for open borders."

Trump hit back, saying that he worked to build relationships with politicians on both sides of the aisle as a businessman.

"You get along with nobody," he told Cruz, noting not a single Republican senator has endorsed him.

'The wall just got 10 feet taller'

Trump, who opened his campaign with a vow to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, was asked about former Mexican president Vicente Fox's declaration that "I'm not paying for that wall."

Trump said his comments just ups the stakes and that he would insist, saying, "I will, and the wall just got 10-feet taller, believe me."

Amid suggestions that doing so could spark a trade war, Trump suggested that he had some experience with trade wars.

He added that trade deficits between the two nations means "we're losing" and that America had ground to make up on that front.

When asked by a moderator why he wants to build a wall with Mexico but not Canada, Trump said the U.S. border with Canada was much longer than the border with Mexico, and that it would be much harder to build. He also mentioned Canada was not a big a problem, saying the threat comes from the southern, not northern, U.S. border.

Trump insisted that he'll win the Hispanic vote in a general election, despite polls that show him deeply unpopular among that community. He predicts that he'll do "really well with Hispanics" because they know he'll work to create jobs.

"They get it. They're incredible people, they're incredible workers," he said.

Trump also dismissed a new poll from debate co-host Telemundo, which questioned his popularity among Hispanics: "I don't believe anything Telemundo says."

The candidates also clashed of national security and foreign affairs.

On Israel, Trump touted himself as the most pro-Israeli person on the stage. He accused President Barack Obama of treating Israel "horribly,"

"I am a negotiator," Trump told Rubio, saying his approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict "will never bring peace."

Rubio replied that the Palestinians are promoting war with Israel to their children, and that makes a peace deal between the two sides impossible. He lashed out at Trump, saying "he thinks Palestinians are a real estate deal."

Trump, Rubio, Cruz and even Ohio Gov. John Kasich traded punches on issues regarding Israel, Syria and North Korea, at times taking control from debate moderators.

"Can someone attack me please?" asked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, referring to the fact he was being largely ignored throughout the debate.
Rubio, Cruz look to slow down Trump

Rubio and Cruz so far have shown little willingness to take on the former reality television star when the national spotlight shines brightest. But that changed Thursday night, in the ninth Republican debate of the presidential campaign.

"The vast and overwhelming majority of Republicans do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee," Rubio told NBC before the debate, suggesting Trump is winning only because the other candidates are splitting the Republican voters who don't like him.

Trump's surprising hold on the top spot has remained strong in the raucous contest to pick a Republican candidate in the November election, despite his politically incorrect statements against Hispanics and Muslims, salty language and a self-funded campaign without spending on television advertising.

But Trump may well become the inevitable Republican after the Super Tuesday votes next week in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake. So far, after four primary and caucus contests, Trump has 82 delegates, Cruz has 17 and Rubio has 16. A candidate must have 1,237 state delegates to win the Republican nomination at the party's convention this summer.

The New York billionaire has predicted the relative civility until now between Rubio and himself won't last. Thursday's debate will take place just a few days before 11 states hold Republican elections that could either cement Trump's dominance, or let his rivals slow his march to his party's nomination.

One of the early casualties of the Republican presidential race, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, showed no reluctance Thursday to assail Trump head-on, calling him "a nut job" who's likely to win the Republican nomination but lose the general election.

Vice-President Joe Biden said during a visit in Mexico on Thursday that some of the campaign rhetoric about Mexico has been "dangerous, damaging and incredibly ill-advised." Biden said the Republican candidates "do not represent the view of the vast majority of the American people."
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