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Three highlights from the low-brow Republican presidential debate

Sen. Marco Rubio, left, and Donald Trump tangled on a personal level early in Thursday night’s debate with Trump mocking Rubio as “Little Marco’’ and criticizing his absenteeism in the Senate. Rubio said Trump makes promises that he won’t keep.

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Sen. Marco Rubio, left, and Donald Trump tangled on a personal level early in Thursday night’s debate with Trump mocking Rubio as “Little Marco’’ and criticizing his absenteeism in the Senate. Rubio said Trump makes promises that he won’t keep.

Trump: 'I guarantee you there's no problem'

What had to be the most juvenile and shallow presidential debate in the history of America began with Donald Trump referring to the size of his private parts. "I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee," Trump said. It came amid a question to Marco Rubio, who spent last weekend attacking Trump on a personal level, calling him a "con man" and mocking his spelling and the size of his hands. Rubio's attacks were a sudden departure from his earlier attempts to avoid confrontation with Trump. He and Trump fought early and often Thursday night, Trump calling him "Little Marco," and Rubio shooting back at "Big Donald."

Immigration trips up Trump this time

Stuff you never expected to hear in a presidential debate, part 285: Bickering over the sanctity of "off the record" conversations with journalists. Rubio and Ted Cruz hectored Trump to urge the New York Times to release audiotapes of an off-the-record interview he had with the paper, to prove he is not waffling on his hard-line immigration stance behind the scenes. Trump, who wants to open up libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists, laughably said he has "too much respect" for the process. Calls from his rivals to "release the tape" are sure to continue, as they try to sow doubts about how much Trump might shift on key platform planks.

From the side of the stage, a dose of civility

Rubio and Trump clashed again over Trump's real estate "university" and Rubio humanized it by saying he had spoken with a "victim." Trump was left scrambling for personal attacks and even his reference to Rubio's absenteeism was overshadowed by sophomoric boasts about poll leads. In stepped John Kasich with a crowd-pleasing, above-the-fray appeal to civility. "I appreciate the discussion back and forth. But there are a lot of people out there yearning for somebody who's going to bring America back, both at the leadership level and in the neighborhood, where we can begin to reignite the spirit of the United States of America. And let's stop fighting."

Three highlights from the low-brow Republican presidential debate 03/03/16 [Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2016 8:39am]
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