Debate a chance for rivals to try to slow Trump

Marco Rubio (R-FL) hammering another GOP candidate on Thursday for sticking to a script when he attacked Donald Trump for repeating himself.

The debate's location in Houston gave a nod to the primacy of Texas in the Super Tuesday voting: There are 595 delegates at stake, 155 in Texas.

Cruz, looking for a home state win in Texas, got a boost late today from a Monmouth University poll, putting his support at 38 percent of Texans, against 23 percent for Trump.

The only other Republican groups that have begun advertisements in the states are John Kasich's super PAC, New Day for America, which is advertising in MA and Vermont (along with MI, which votes March 8). That all changed in the ninth GOP debate of the campaign, clearly showing the growing sense that Trump is on track for the nomination.

Before Trump could even defend himself, Rubio decides to end former reality star once and for all. But Trump was supported by half of those who said they were only somewhat conservative, and more than half of moderates.

Can any of Donald Trump's rivals find the magic words to stop his triumphal march toward the Republican presidential nomination? And his mantra of "waste, fraud and abuse?" He then turned to Trump, who has advocated the building of a wall on the southern border and deporting all 11 million undocumented migrants in the US. "Trump is Goliath, and we've seen enough of the other candidates to know there are no Davids in this field".

For months, the Florida senator resisted taking on Republican front-runner and expert attack dog Donald Trump, much to the chagrin of the GOP establishment.

Cruz comes into the debate at the weakest point of his campaign after a staff shake-up and three consecutive third-place finishes. Trump was rattled by the exchange, one of the few times during the night the front runner seemed taken aback. Doubtful. Was it enough to keep Rubio moving ahead and raising money? Within the Republican party, some still expect a long fight and cling to a scenario in which three candidates - Trump, Rubio and Cruz - stay in the race until the convention, with none gaining an absolute majority of delegates - 1,237 out of a total 2,472. He outshone Cruz and that's his competition now. Joining in, Cruz criticized Trump for suggesting he alone had "discovered the issue of illegal immigration". Trump will be center stage with Rubio to his left and Cruz to his right.

Ben Carson - Carson is likable, doesn't speak ill of his opponents and makes his points in a soft-spoken and straight forward way.



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