The five remaining GOP presidential candidates clashed mightily during Thursday's debate in Houston knowing that Super Tuesday is just days away.
As Fox News reported
, "Both Rubio and [Ted] Cruz fought hard to throw [Donald] Trump off his stride as the field charges into the all-important Super Tuesday contests. Rubio, in particular, was unrelenting in keeping the pressure on Trump."
The candidates with the fewest delegates, Gov. John Kasich and Ben Carson, shied away from attacking anybody, and the other candidates seemed reluctant to expend energy on attacking them.
Gathered below are 15 debate clashes that prove the three-man race is heating up.
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1. Trump hurls insults
— "This guy is a choke artist, and this guy is a liar," Trump said, pointing first at Rubio, then at Cruz. He later called Cruz a "basket case."
2. Trump, Rubio clash over repeated talking points
— After Trump repeatedly said he'd remove "the lines around the states" to strengthen America's health insurance outlook, Rubio said, "Now he's repeating himself." The audience laughed and cheered, knowing that Rubio had himself suffered in a previous debate for repeating his talking points. "I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago," Trump said, referring to the pre-New Hampshire debate. "I just watched you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago," Rubio shot back.
3. Cruz accuses Trump of supporting "socialized medicine"
— "Donald Trump's socialized medicine, putting the government in charge of your healthcare would kill more jobs than Obamacare," said Cruz. "Call it what you want, people are not going to be dying on the sidewalk," Trump said after much back and forth.
4. Rubio, Trump spar over foreign hires
— "Even today, we saw a report in one of the newspapers that Donald, you've hired a significant number of people from other countries to take jobs that Americans could have filled," said Rubio. "My mom and dad — my mom was a maid at a hotel, and instead of hiring an American like her, you have brought in over a thousand people from all over the world to fill those jobs instead." Trump responded, saying, "They were part-time jobs. You needed them, or we just might as well close the doors, because you couldn't get help in those hot, hot sections of Florida."
5. Rubio says Trump Tower built by illegal immigrants
— "If he builds the wall the way he built Trump Towers, he'll be using illegal immigrant labor to do it," Rubio said of Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico. "Such a cute sound bite," Trump retorted. "No, it's not a sound bite. It's a fact. Again, go online and Google it. Donald Trump, Polish workers. You'll see it."
6. Rubio mentions Trump's foreign-made neckties
— "About the trade war — I don't understand, because your ties and the clothes you make is made in Mexico and in China," Rubio said to Trump. "So you're going to be starting a trade war against your own ties and your own suits."
7. Trump's bankruptcies questioned
— After Rubio accused Trump of hypocrisy for having his neckties manufactured overseas, the billionaire shot back: "You wouldn't know anything about it because you're a lousy businessman." Rubio returned fire, saying, "Well, I don't know anything about bankrupting four companies."
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8. Trump slams Cruz over Supreme Court confirmations
— "Justice Roberts was strongly recommended and pushed by Ted. Justice Roberts gave us Obamacare. Might as well be called Roberts-care," said Trump. Cruz shot back: "Donald knows that it was George W. Bush who appointed John Roberts. Yes, it's true, I supported the Republican nominee once he was made."
9. Cruz hits Trump on donations to Democrats
— "Donald promises that he will appoint justices who will defend religious liberty, but this is a man who, for 40 years, has given money to Jimmy Carter, to Joe Biden, to Hillary Clinton, to Chuck Schumer, to Harry Reid," said Cruz. "Nobody who supports far-left liberal Democrats who are fighting for judicial activists can possibly care about having principled constitutionalists on the court."
10. Rubio attacks Trump for past liberal positions
— "Very recently, he was still defending Planned Parenthood. He says he's not going to take sides in the Palestinians versus Israel. These are concerning things," Rubio said of Trump. "As far as Planned Parenthood is concerned, I'm pro-life. I'm totally against abortion, having to do with Planned Parenthood," Trump said, promising to defund the organization. "But millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood."
11. Rubio highlights Trump University lawsuits
— Referring to Trump University as "a fake school," Rubio said, "There are people who borrowed $36,000 to go to Trump University, and they're suing now — $36,000 to go to a university . . . And you know what they got? They got to take a picture with a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump." Trump responded, saying, "I've won most of the lawsuits." Rubio mocked Trump's words in his own response: "Most of the lawsuits."
12. Trump slams Rubio's lobbyist connections
— "Here's a guy that buys a house for $179,000, he sells it to a lobbyist who's probably here for $380,000 and then legislation is passed. You tell me about this guy," Trump said of Rubio.
13. Rubio attacks Trump's inheritance
— "Here's a guy that inherited $200 million. If he hadn't inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan."
14. Trump defends his inheritance
— "I took $1 million and I turned into $10 billion," Trump said, defending his business record. "I borrowed $1 million."
15. Rubio demands Trump release his taxes
— After Trump claimed that he borrowed $1 million from his parents to start his own business and turned it into $10 billion, Rubio said, "Better release your tax returns so we can see how much money he made." The back-and-forth touched on Mitt Romney's comments from earlier in the week, which questioned what people might find in Trump's tax returns.
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