Donald Trump was on the defensive in the Detroit debate.
Currently leading in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, he was relentlessly targeted in the latest standoff, with at least two of his three rivals seemingly on a mission to make him lose his cool.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has previously labelled Trump a conman, called for further attacks on the property magnate.
“This campaign for the last year, Donald Trump has basically mocked everybody with personal attacks. He’s done so to people who are sitting on this stage today. He’s done so about people that are disabled. He’s done it about every other candidate in this race. So, if there’s anyone who’s ever deserved to be attacked that way, it’s been Donald Trump. For the way he’s treated people for the last campaign.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich continued with his strategy of sounding positive, but failed to make a real mark on the debate.
However, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who is in second place in the fight for the nomination, made subtle jibes at Trump’s slogans and campaign merchandise.
“And I don’t think the people of America are interested in a bunch of bickering schoolchildren. They’re interested in solutions, not slogans. It’s easy to say ‘make things better, make things great.’ You can even print it and put it on a baseball cap. But the question is: do you understand the principles that made America great in the first place?”
At times, the insults seemed better-suited to the school playground than a presidential debate, with Trump drawing attention to an innuendo made by Rubio.
“Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands, if they’re small, something else has to be small. I guarantee you, there’s no problem. I guarantee,” he assured the audience.
Follow Trump’s seven-state victory on Super Tuesday, Republicans are, it seems, growing increasingly anxious about the very real prospect of him becoming the presidential nominee.
Although he largely kept his cool, Trump was forced to defend almost every aspect of his political career so far, including his initial hesitation to denounce the Ku Klux Klan, to which he responded:
“I totally disavow the Ku Klux Klan. […] I’ve been doing it now for about two weeks.”
But, despite the jibes, Trump’s sparring partners each indicated they would, nevertheless, support him if he became the Republican nominee.