With Donald Trump on the verge of running away with the Republican nomination for president, [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] and [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] repeatedly and aggressively challenged the New York business throughout Thursday night’s debate in Houston.
Rubio — the Florida senator who some Republicans have accused of not doing enough to go after Trump until now — went out of his way to attack the frontrunner at the start of the debate, accusing him of hiring foreign workers at his properties.
“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,” Rubio told Trump, citing a recent article in the New York Times.
Trump shot back: “I’m the only one on the stage that’s hired people. You haven’t hired anybody.”
“I’ve hired tens of thousands of people,” Trump continued. “He brings up something from 30 years ago, it worked out very well. Everybody was happy. And by the way, the laws were totally different. That was a whole different world.”
As Rubio continued to push the issue, Trump referenced negative stories about the senator’s finances.
“You’ve had nothing but problems with your credit cards, et cetera,” Trump said. “So don’t tell me about that.”
Rubio also went after Trump’s business success, saying: “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.”
Trump shot back: “I borrowed $1 million, I turned it into $10 billion.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also took aim at Trump during the debate over immigration, health care and other issues.
“I really find it amazing that Donald believes that he is the one who discovered the issue of illegal immigration,” Cruz said. “I can tell you, when I ran for Senate here in the state of Texas, I ran promising to lead the fight against amnesty, promising to fight to build a wall. And in 2013, when I was fight against the gang of eight amnesty bill, where was Donald? He was firing Dennis Rodman on ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’”
Trump retaliated at Cruz by saying: “You don’t have one Republican senator backing you; not one. You don’t have the endorsement of one Republican senator and you work with these people. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
The two other Republicans on the stage, former Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, attempted to stay out the fray.
Carson begun debate by calling on his rivals not to go after each other.
“Marco, Donald, Ted, John, we will not solve any of these problems by trying to destroy each other,” Carson said. “What we need to do is be looking for solutions tonight. It’s not about us, it’s about the American people.”