In Republican Debate, Candidates Battle Sharply on Immigration – The New York Times

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MILWAUKEE — After weeks of personal sniping, the Republican presidential candidates clashed sharply over immigration and other policies in their debate here on Tuesday, with Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida trying to energize their campaigns by heaping scorn on Donald J. Trump’s plan to deport unauthorized immigrants.

In the most substantive Republican debate so far, Mr. Kasich and Mr. Bush, who have been fading in polls, presented themselves as experienced chief executives who had practical solutions to deal with national challenges like immigration. Yet Mr. Trump and another candidate, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, inveighed against what they called amnesty and argued that undocumented workers were driving down Americans’ wages.

The splintering over immigration, in a campaign dominated so far by the personas, speeches and backgrounds of the candidates, illuminated the brightest dividing line between Republican hopefuls like Mr. Bush and Mr. Kasich, who favor a comprehensive immigration overhaul, and the many primary voters who have embraced Mr. Trump’s harsh language about immigrants in the country illegally.

While several other candidates, like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, received a pass from the moderators on immigration, Mr. Kasich took on the issue directly after Mr. Trump defended his plan to build a wall along the Mexican border and to identify and deport some 11 million people.

“Think about the families; think about the children,” Mr. Kasich said. “Come on, folks, we know you can’t pick them up and ship them across the border. It’s a silly argument. It’s not an adult argument.”

Mr. Trump, whose counterpunches were a memorable part of his early debate performances, replied coolly at first, citing President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s approach to deporting immigrants in the 1950s.

“You don’t get nicer; you don’t get friendlier,” Mr. Trump said. “We have no choice. We have no choice.”

But Mr. Kasich stayed on the attack. “Little false little things, sir, they really don’t work when it comes to the truth,” he said.

Mr. Bush then tried to pounce. He twitted Mr. Trump, his longtime rival in the race, for suggesting that Mr. Bush be allowed to speak — “What a generous man you are” — and warned that Mr. Trump’s harsh proposals would drive Hispanic voters to support the Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this,” Mr. Bush said.

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