As the race for the US presidential nomination heats up ahead of the New Hampshire primary on 9 February, the crowded Republican pack slugged it out in a fractious TV debate on Saturday evening.
First-time senator Marco Rubio’s strong third place in the Iowa caucuses on 1 February, made him a target for the other hopefuls.
Rubio came under sharp and repeated attack over his level of experience from Chris Christie, who told Rubio: “You have not been involved in a consequential decision, where you had to be held accountable, you just simply haven’t.”
Rubio made an attempt to fight back by criticising Christie’s governorship of New Jersey, saying the state had been “downgraded nine times on the credit rating” during Christie’s governorship.
“That’s what Washington, DC does. The ‘driveby shot’ at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information, and then the memorised 25 second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him,” Christie said of Rubio’s comments, and received an enthusiastic round of applause from the audience for doing so.
Christie so much more effective when he's being forceful/confident rather than bullying/hectoring. #GOPDebate— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 7, 2016
Donald Trump, who polls suggest is the Republican frontrunner in New Hampshire, got into an angry exchange with Jeb Bush on the issue of eminent domain – during which Trump was booed by the audience for telling Bush to be quiet.
“The difference, the difference between eminent domain for public purpose – as Donald said, roads and infrastructure, pipelines and all that – that’s for public purpose. But what Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose, that is downright wrong,” Bush said.
Cruz denied that waterboarding – a practice used under the George W. Bush administration during the war on terror – was torture, saying: “Under the definition of torture, no it is not. It is enhanced interrogation.”
Trump said he would “bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”