Fight Club

Last Thursday’s tenth GOP presidential debate felt like a WWE SummerSlam event. By the halfway point, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Donald Trump had walked off stage and tagged Chris Christie to come out and slam a folding chair against Marco Rubio.

With Super Tuesday quickly approaching, it was inevitable that leading candidate Trump would find himself in the role of the bull lowered into Cruz and Rubio’s velociraptor pen.

As the dust settled, the night clearly belonged to Marco Rubio. The robotic Rubio was a terminator on the Texas stage, sent back in time to destroy Donald Trump.

On the issue of healthcare, Trump predictably declared he would “get rid of Obamacare” and replace it with “something much better.” What that is, nobody knows exactly.

The only details Trump would reveal about his “plan” are he would keep the ACA’s provision on pre-existing conditions and allow insurers to sell across state lines. Rubio seized an opportunity to attack the GOP frontrunner:

“Here’s what you didn’t hear in that answer, and this is important guys, this is an important thing. What is your plan? I understand the lines around the state, whatever that means. This is not a game where you draw maps…”

Trump was quick to cut off Rubio, but that didn’t stop the Florida senator from asking “what is your plan” in some variation a total of six times… to never get an answer.

Taking a page from Rubio’s playbook, Trump seemingly could not stop himself from repeating his ‘lines around the states’ talking point three times.

It was like watching a round of Rock‘em Sock‘em Robots.

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As Trump attempted damage control on stage by recalling the moment Chris Christie admonished Rubio during the last debate for putting his talking points on a loop, Rubio turned the tactic against the real estate mogul:

“I see him repeat himself every night. He says five things: everyone’s dumb, he’s gonna make America great again. We’re going to win, win win, he’s winning in the polls. And the lines around the state.”

Although Trump’s healthcare plan is essentially non-existent, Rubio’s plan is nearly as vague (and doesn’t include a pre-existing provision).

Later in the debate, Rubio would attack Trump’s credibility to appoint a conservative justice to replace the recently deceased Justice Scalia by citing the billionaire’s support for Planned Parenthood.

Trump responded:

“As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, I’m pro-life. I’m totally against abortion, having to do with Planned Parenthood. But millions and millions of women – cervical cancer, breast cancer – are helped by Planned Parenthood.”

Trump would continue with a schizophrenic back and forth of praising and then quickly threatening one of the nation’s largest healthcare providers:

“So you can say whatever you want, but they have millions of women going through Planned Parenthood that are helped greatly. And I wouldn’t fund it.”

His reasoning? Abortion. What is incredibly amazing to me is that not a single GOP candidate acknowledges (or perhaps is aware) that the Hyde Amendment prevents federal funding from being used in abortion procedures performed by Planned Parenthood.

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Credit: CNN

Dr. Ben Carson referred to the qualifications he would judge appropriate for a Supreme Court nominee as “the fruit salad of their life.” It’s a ridiculous line that overshadowed Carson’s appalling view of same-sex marriage in the same discussion:

“But what we have to remember is even though everybody has the same rights, nobody gets extra rights. So nobody gets to redefine things for everybody else and then have them have to conform to it. That’s unfair.”

Those “extra rights” Carson mentions include the right to marry. Carson said the same thing nearly verbatim at 2014’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

The night’s first half hour was consumed by the immigration issue.

Trump and Cruz expressed their intentions to deport 11 million people. However, neither candidate seems aware of the negative side effects such an action would have on our economy.

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that illegal immigrants contribute $11.64 billion in taxes per year.

President Obama’s immigration executive actions that Rubio, Trump and Cruz want to rescind increase their yearly tax contributions by an additional $805 million.

Cruz continued his attack from previous debates on Rubio’s participation in the Gang of Eight immigration reform legislation, negatively referring to it as an “amnesty bill.”

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Credit: Mike Stone/Reuters

Watching from the audience was former President George H.W. Bush: a man who was Vice President when Ronald Reagan signed a 1986 Act into law that actually granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants.

Although Rubio was the winner, the Republican Party itself is the night’s loser.

The candidates seemed more prepared to insult each other than discuss their proposals.

When Trump was asked by moderator Wolf Blitzer how will he cover his tax plan’s $10 trillion cost, he responded he would get rid of the Department of Education and the EPA. When Blitzer explained that’s only $76 billion, Trump explained where the rest of the funds would come from:

“Waste, fraud and abuse all over the place. Waste, fraud and abuse.”

Whew! For a moment there, I thought the leading GOP presidential candidate was just going to pull a random answer from his ass.

Since Rubio’s schoolyard attack on Trump, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site shows Trump favored to win six of the seven states the site has forecasted for Super Tuesday (Ted Cruz is favored to win Texas).

Perhaps the real robot isn’t Rubio, but Donald Trump. He’s a seemingly unstoppable machine created from years of the GOP pandering to homophobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, and advocating fear mongering regarding the Second Amendment and religious liberty.

Good job, guys.

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