Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

GOP debate a mostly respectful, pointed discussion

Republican presidential candidates, from left, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, businessman Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas stand for the national anthem during a debate Thursday at the University of Miami. They were joined by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Miami Herald

Republican presidential candidates, from left, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, businessman Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas stand for the national anthem during a debate Thursday at the University of Miami. They were joined by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

MIAMI — Abandoning the nasty insults of past debates, Donald Trump and his Republican rivals turned Thursday night's presidential face-off into a mostly respectful but still pointed discussion of Social Security, Islam, trade and more. Trump shook his head and declared at one point: "I can't believe how civil it's been up here."

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio didn't hesitate to lay out their differences with Trump, but the candidates largely managed to present those arguments without vitriol.

In a lengthy discussion of the threat posed by radicalized Muslims, Trump refused to back away from his recent statement that "Islam hates the West." He said he wouldn't stoop to being "politically correct" by avoiding such statements.

Rubio had a sharp comeback: "I'm not interested in being politically correct. I'm interested in being correct."

The Florida senator noted the Muslims in the U.S. military and buried in Arlington National Cemetery and said the only way to solve the problem of violent extremists is to work with people in the Muslim faith who are not radicals.

Cruz bundled together his criticisms of Trump for what he called simplistic solutions on trade and on Islamic terrorists, saying, "The answer is not to simply yell, 'China: bad, Muslim: bad.' "

Trump, though, clearly was intent on projecting a less bombastic — and more presidential — image.

His closing message: "Be smart and unify."

"We're all in this together," he said early on, sounding more like a conciliator than a provocateur as he strives to unify the party behind his candidacy. "We're going to come up with solutions. We're going to find the answer to things."

The candidates split down the middle — Trump and Texas Sen. Cruz vs. Florida Sen. Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — on the likelihood and implications of the GOP race coming down to a brokered Republican convention this summer.

"I think I'm going to have the delegates, okay?" Trump said.

As for who has a realistic chance of winning the nomination, Trump simply wrote off Rubio and Kasich, saying, "There are two of us that can, and there are two of us that cannot, okay?"

Cruz heartily agreed with Trump on that.

Rubio countered that disappointing "delegate math" aside, he'd keep on fighting.

Kasich, for his part, said it wouldn't be so bad to have a contested convention. He added there are plenty of primaries left so "let's not get ahead of ourselves."

Trump's rivals, in a desperate scramble to halt his march to the nomination, gradually ramped up their criticism as the night wore on.

Rubio's overarching message: "I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says. The problem is presidents can't just say anything they want because it has consequences around the world."

In a meaty discussion of Social Security, Cruz and Rubio both said they'd gradually raise the retirement age for younger workers to help stabilize the system and stave off financial disaster for the system.

Trump, in contrast, said he'd do "everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to leave it the way it is."

Florida is the biggest prize of Tuesday's five-state round of voting, and all 99 of the state's delegates will go to the winner.

In all, 367 Republican delegates will be at stake, with voting also occurring in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Rubio plans visit Saturday

Marco Rubio is headed back to the Tampa Bay area, scheduling a rally Saturday morning in Largo "to share his optimistic vision for the 21st century with Florida voters." The 9 a.m. event is at Beckwith Electric, 6190 118th Ave. Doors open at 8 a.m. RSVP to attend the free event at tbtim.es/xmi.

GOP debate a mostly respectful, pointed discussion 03/10/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2016 11:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Nick White's 'How to Survive a Summer' takes on homophobia at its worst

    Books

    Will Dillard's summer camp experience is a real horror movie.

  2. Senate leaders unveil bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act

    Health

    The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans, who have promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act for seven years, took a major step on Thursday toward that goal, unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law's mandate that most Americans have health insurance.

    U.S. Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill's chief author, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has said "Obamacare is collapsing around us, and the American people are desperately searching for relief." [AP]
  3. Southwest Airlines to offer flights from Tampa to San Diego

    Airlines

    TAMPA — Southwest Airlines will offer new nonstop service from Tampa International Airport to San Diego International Airport beginning Jan. 8, 2018.

    Southwest Airlines is planning to launch service from Tampa to San Diego.
[Times file photo]
  4. The greatest coaches never to win it all

    College

    As foregone conclusions go, some things are approaching the death-and-taxes stratosphere: summer humidity in Florida, a Kardashian seeking attention, and Mike Martin coming up short in Omaha.

    Florida State coach Mike Martin walks to the mound to talk to pitcher Cole Sands during the second inning of the team's NCAA College World Series baseball game against LSU Wednesday in Omaha, Neb. [AP photo]
  5. Bucs fans ranked 25th in study of NFL teams

    Blogs

    The Bucs and their fans are ranked 25th in an Emory University study of NFL teams' "fan base and branding analysis."

    Bucs fans were on their feet for this fourth-quarter play at home against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium in 2015.