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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio finally goes at Trump

The rumble in Houston

New York Times

The rumble in Houston

25

February

Rubio vs. Trump, round 1

Marco Rubio has been criticized for playing it safe with Donald Trump, but he confronted Trump at the top of the debate over immigration. Rubio dodged a question on the contentious issue to attack Trump's hiring practices. "No, no," Trump shot back, "I'm the only one on the stage that's hired people. You haven't hired anybody." Rubio attempted to interject, but Trump waved him off and brought up Rubio's use of Florida GOP credit cards. "Be quiet. Just be quiet," he told Rubio. Rubio slashed again, "If he builds the wall the way he built Trump Towers, he'll be using illegal immigrant labor to do it," leading Trump to weakly reply, "Such a cute soundbite."

Rubio vs. Trump, round 2

The rumpus continued with Rubio challenging Trump to detail his health care plan, exposing Trump's weakness: lack of substance on issues. When Trump talked of getting rid of "lines around the states," referring to restrictions on insurers selling polices in multiple states, Rubio jumped: "This is not a game where you draw maps. . . . What is your plan?" Trump tried to recover by mentioning Rubio's robotic debate performance, but Rubio skillfully turned it against Trump who talked again about "the lines." Said Rubio: "Now he's repeating himself." The crowd erupted.

Rubio vs. Trump, round 3

Rubio saw another avenue when the discussion turned to Israel. But Trump unleashed a trademark insult, reminding the audience of Rubio's "meltdown" in the New Hampshire debate. "It was one of the saddest things," Trump said. Twisting it deeper, he warned that world leaders would be tougher than Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who so rattled Rubio. "This guy's a choke artist," Trump said a while later. Trump sounded often like he was running in the general election — praising some Planned Parenthood services — than a Republican primary.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2016 11:30pm]

    

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