On Saturday night, the last GOP debate before the February 20 South Carolina primary took place. The real estate billionaire and leading candidate in the polls, Donald Trump was roughed up ahead of South Carolina’s primary. The all out war was so fierce the moderator, John Dickerson, was startled. The audience were not left out. They booed when they wanted, especially at Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
The night was a clear sign of the rising stakes at South Carolina which could define the race for the GOP nomination. Donald Trump slammed Jeb Bush for supporting his brother — the former president George Bush, and the invasion of Iraq. Jeb Bush retorted then went on to slam John Kasich for supporting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Rubio and Trump took turns to label Ted Cruz «a liar» and expectedly Cruz hit back. Ben Carson looked on hoping his soft spoken nature would play to his advantage.
The candidates at the debate went unrestrained. Donald Trump said: “The World Trade Center came down during the reign of Bush,” playing the 9/11 card but it didn’t sit well with the audience. He fired the first shots of the night according to reports from POLITICO. Jeb Bush responded immediately and other candidates were in support. Bush said: “I’m sick and tired of him [Trump] going after my family.» In Bush’s defense, Rubio said: “I thank God it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore.»
This was the second straight time Bush was standing up strong to Donald Trump. In previous occasions, Trump attacked viciously and mocked his low standing in polls. In the last debate Bush outmaneuvered Trump. This particular last debate seem to interest other candidates as they joined in against Trump. Even Marco Rubio who exchanged words with Bush over the week joined against Trump. Every time Trump slammed Bush the audience booed relentlessly.