The 13 biggest moments of the GOP debate – Politico


Jeb and Trump brawl. Rubio slams Cruz on NSA surveillance. And the crowd turns on Hugh Hewitt.

The Republican presidential candidates went after each other right from the start of the CNN debate Tuesday night. Here are the most memorable and important moments:

1. Trump rules out independent bid

Moderator Hugh Hewitt asked Donald Trump if he was prepared to rule out a third-party bid. Trump said he was.

Trump: “I really am. I really am.” (The audience broke in with applause.) “I’ve gained great respect for the Republican leadership. I have great respect, in different forms for the people on this stage. … I will tell you, I am totally committed to the Republican Party. I feel honored to be the front-runner.”

2. Cruz and Rubio clash on surveillance

As Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have moved up the presidential polls, Rubio and his campaign have been hammering Cruz’s vote against a National Security Agency phone-metadata collection program. Rubio kept it up Tuesday night, saying, “We need more tools, not less tools” to fight terrorism right now.

Cruz countered that NSA surveillance is now stronger as a result of his votes, and that Rubio’s attack was disingenuous. “Marco knows what he’s saying isn’t true,” Cruz shot back. “They are Alinsky-like attacks like Barack Obama.”

The moderators then let Rubio step back in, to cheers from the crowd. “I don’t think national television in front of 15 million people is the place to discuss classified information. … The next time there is an attack on this country the first thing we’re going to want to know is why didn’t we know about it and why didn’t we stop it?”

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