RECAP: The big GOP debate

Houston, Texas, hosted the 10th Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election season Thursday night on CNN, and it got nasty.

For two hours, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas launched attacks at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump spent his night firing back at the senators.

The event, which was hosted by the University of Houston, was the last debate before next week’s “Super Tuesday” primary — where 13 states will be voting for a GOP nominee.

Trump was at the center podium and was the big target for his rivals as his position in the race solidifies with win after win.

He was flanked by Rubio and Cruz, who didn’t spend much time going after each other during the debate. Cruz won the Iowa caucuses but has slipped behind Rubio in the two most recent contests.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson were also on the stage, but they didn’t receive as much attention as the top-three in the race. They both trail the top tier by a considerable margin in the upcoming “Super Tuesday” states.

Here’s our recap of the night:

10:50 p.m. EST. — The candidates gave their closing statements.

Carson talked about how a movie was made about his hands. Trump said “nobody knows politicians better than I do.”

10:37 p.m. EST. — “Their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States of America,” Rubio said about the debate over whether Apple should allow the government to create a backdoor to get into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.

Cruz agreed, and said Apple can’t violate a court order.

Kasich then criticised Obama for not doing more to reach a solution in the ordeal.

10:32 p.m. EST. — Trump and Cruz had their most heated exchange of the night.

“Relax, Donald,” Cruz said.

“You’re the basket case,” Trump responded.

Here’s the full exchange:

Trump: “I watched what this man did, to Dr. Ben Carson — who I respect — in Iowa. Where he said that Ben Carson is out of the race, has left Iowa, and he’s out of the race, and I thought it was disgraceful.”

Trump: “And he got a lot of votes, because of that. He took them away from Ben Carson, and he probably took some away from me too. But I watched him. I also watched where he did a form, that looked like it came right out of a government agency, and it said on top: Voter violation, and then it graded you. And it scared the hell out of people. And the only way to clear up the violation essentially is to go and vote for Ted Cruz. I watched that fraudulent document. And I said it’s the worst thing it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen in politics. To me, that was even worse than what he did with Ben.”

Trump: “I know politicians, believe it or not, better than you do. And it’s not good.”

Cruz: “Oh, I believe it. I believe you know politicians better than I do, because for 40 years, you’ve been funding liberal democratic politicians.”

Trump: “I funded you! I funded him! I funded this guy! I gave him a check.”

Cruz: “Lets be clear. He gave me $5000, and by the way, lets be clear. Donald claims to care — I understand rules are very hard for you.”

Trump (to Rubio): “Thank you for the book. Go ahead.”

Cruz: “Donald, you can get back…”

Trump: “We’re having fun up here tonight I’ll tell you. Thank you for the book, I really appreciate it.”

Cruz: “Relax, Donald.”

Trump: “Go ahead, I’m relaxed. You’re the basket case. Go ahead, don’t get nervous.”

Cruz to Blitzer: “Excuse me! He called me a liar and interrupted the whole time.”

10:29 p.m. EST. —“Can somebody attack me, please?” Carson said.

10:26 p.m. EST. — Cruz then called out Trump for donating to Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign and to other Democratic candidates.

10:26 p.m. EST. — Trump then said that Libya and the US “would be so much better if Gaddafi was in charge.”

10:23 p.m. EST. — Trump called the ceasefire in Syria “meaningless.”

10:19 p.m. EST. — “People say that I whine a lot because I don’t get time. I’m going to whine,” Carson said, adding that he didn’t get asked about taxes or Israel.

He then gave his answers on Israel and North Korea.

10:13 p.m. EST. — “The Palestinians are not a real estate deal,” Rubio fired back at Trump.

10:09 p.m. EST. — “It doesn’t do any good to start demeaning the neighbours,” Trump said in regard to a question about his stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I would love to do something to negotiate peace. I cannot do that as well if I’m taking big big sides. With that being said, I’m totally pro-Israel.”

10:02 p.m. EST. — “It’s interesting that Donald went on an extended tirade about the polls” without saying anything of substance, Cruz said. “The only reason he isn’t releasing [tax returns] is because he’s afraid there’s something in there that could get him hit.”

9:56 p.m. EST. —“I know I’m good for the ratings but it’s a little bit ridiculous,” Trump said as Hewitt called him out for not releasing his tax returns after saying he would do so on his show. “First of all, very few people listen to your radio show.”

9:55 p.m. EST. — Trump then dug into Romney:

“I will say this. Mitt Romney looked like a fool when he delayed and delayed and delayed and Harry Reid baited him beautifully. Mitt Romney didn’t file his return until September 21st 2012, about a month and half before the election. And it cost him bigly. As far as my return I want to file it.”

9:53 p.m. EST. — “I’m a big fan of the governor but they also struck oil,” Trump said of Kasich, referencing fracking in the state.

9:48 p.m. EST. —“You may let it, you may be fine with it,” Trump said to Cruz about letting people die in the street.

“I will not let people die on the street if I’m president,” he added, insisting to Cruz that he isn’t an advocate for government sponsored healthcare.

9:46 p.m. EST. —Cruz then asked if he would get a chance to join in on the Obamacare debate.

“It’s kind of an issue I have a long issue with,” Cruz said.

“How do you get that extra time Cruz?” Kasich jumped in and added.

9:39 p.m. EST. —Rubio then repeatedly called out Trump on healthcare.

“What is your plan?” he said repeatedly.

He continued: “Your only plan is to get rid of the lines around the states, but what else is in your plan?”

Trump continued to fight back, but didn’t elaborate more.

“He’s repeating himself,” Rubio said. “You repeat yourself everyday.”

Then Trump called him out for his repeating of the same canned line in a recent debate when pressed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“I saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago,” Rubio said with a smile.

Trump then repeated himself while insisting he does not.

“I don’t repeat myself,” he said, talking over Rubio’s applause. “I don’t repeat myself. “

9:31 p.m. EST. —Moderator Hugh Hewitt asked Kasich about his recent comment regarding same-sex marriage saying that if someone wants to buy a cupcake, sell them a cupcake.

“Tomorrow, maybe I won’t sell to someone who’s divorced,” he said, saying if you’re religious you should say a prayer for them but you shouldn’t refuse to serve them.

9:30 p.m. EST. —Trump then defended some of the services provided by Planned Parenthood.

“As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, I’m pro-life, I’m totally against abortion having to do with Planned Parenthood, and I wouldn’t fund it,” he said. “But millions and millions of women with cervical cancer, breast cancer, are helped by Planned Parenthood. So you can say whatever you want, but there’s millions of women who are going through Planned Parenthood that are helped.”

9:26 p.m. EST. —“I think that maybe we should maybe get a little bit of an apology from Senator Ted what do you think,” Trump said in reference to Cruz calling out decisions his sister has backed as a federal judge.

“I will not apologise for a minute for defending the constitution,” Cruz responded.

9:24 p.m. EST. —“Justice Roberts gave us Obamacare,” Trump said. “Might as well be called Robertscare.”

9:21 p.m. EST. —Trump said he’d do better with Hispanics than anyone else on the stage. He added he settled his lawsuit with Univision.

“We’re friends now,” he said. “Very good people.”

9:15 p.m. EST. — “With me and the Hispanic community, I think they like me,” Kasich said.

9:12 p.m. EST. — “We have to move past this idea that the Hispanic community only cares about immigration,” Rubio said.

9:02 p.m. EST. — Trump was then asked by Blitzer about what former Mexican President Vicente Fox said Thursday, telling a reporter that he wouldn’t build the “f——g wall.”

“The wall just got 10 feet taller,” Trump said. “This guy used a filthy disgusting word on television, and he should apologise.”

He then said he “wouldn’t mind” a trade war with Mexico.

Rubio then got a chance to jump in, and again asked the audience to search: “Donald Trump Polish workers.” Rubio then dug in deeper, saying he hadn’t bankrupt four companies or run a “fake university.”

“If he hadn’t inherited 200 million dollars, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan,” Rubio said.

8:53 p.m. EST. — Trump and Cruz then exchanged barbs.

“You get along with nobody,” Trump said. “You don’t have one Republican senator endorsing you.”

“I think Donald is right. he is promising if he’s elected he will go and cut deals in Washington,” Cruz said. “He has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats.”

“Washington doesn’t like it, and Donald, if you want to be liked in Washington, that’s not a good attitude for being for being president.”

“He talks about corruption, but he doesn’t put that he’s borrowing from Citibank and Goldman Sachs on his financial disclosure form which is totally a violation,” Trump said “He just left it off. Now he’s going to protect the people from the big bad banks.”

8:48 p.m. EST. — The debate opened up with a question about the candidates immigration, and it got heated between Rubio and Trump.

After Rubio called out Trump for changing his position on immigration, he added that Trump hired immigrants who entered the country illegally in Florida. He also said that he criticised former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his immigration policies during his 2012 presidential campaign.

“As far as the people that I’ve hired in Florida during the absolute prime season, you could not get help,” Trump said. “Very seasonal, 90 day jobs, 120 days. You couldn’t get help in those hot, hot sections of Florida.”

He added: “I criticised Mitt Romney for losing the election. He ran a terrible campaign, he was a terrible candidate. … He ran one terrible campaign. That’s an election that should have been won.”

“I’m the only one on this stage who’s hired people,” he continued. “You have nothing but problems with your credit cards, so don’t tell me.”

Then Rubio told the audience to search “Trump Polish workers” on Google.

8:33 p.m. EST. — CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer announced that former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, are in attendance. Bush’s son, Jeb Bush, dropped out of the race after Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

NOW WATCH: This botched intro was the most entertaining moment of the GOP debate

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