Businessman Donald Trump is a democratic sympathizer and will be incapable of winning the general election if he wins the Republican Party's endorsement, Texas Senator Ted Cruz ’92 argued in the Republican debate on Thursday.
"For 40 years, Donald has been part of the corruption in Washington that you’re angry about. And you’re not going to stop the corruption in Washington by supporting someone who has supported liberal democrats for four decades," Cruz argued.
Cruz continued to question Trump's background and commitment to the Republican Party, arguing that in the past he has written four checks to directly support Hillary Clinton's campaign and foundation.
"I beat Hillary Clinton in many polls," Trump said, stating that he would stand a better chance at winning the general election than Cruz or any other candidate would.
Debate moderator Megyn Kelly asked why Trump, in an off-the-record interview with The New York Times, said that he would be flexible in his plan to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border and to deport 11 million illegal immigrants.
Trump said that releasing the recorded interview was out of the question, but that his words had been misconstrued. He added that his flexibility came from uncertainty over specifications of the wall and reiterated that he does not plan to stray from his promise to build a wall on the southern border and make Mexico pay for the construction.
"The border is a disaster; it's like a piece of Swiss cheese," Trump said.
Despite this, Trump announced that it is crucial to retain and attract skilled professionals from outside of the country, as well as help retain individuals who wish to continue working within the country. This was a sharp departure from his immigrant-denouncing rhetoric in previous debates.
"I'm softening the position, because we have to keep some talent and brainpower in this country," he said.
Ohio Governor John Kasich added that he has not gotten involved in many of the squabbles in the GOP debates and that he is the only candidate capable of bringing both parties to work together on areas of concern.
"I can get the crossover votes," he said.
Kasich added that he has repeatedly been written off as an unlikely candidate in the media, but he will continue to persist in his convictions. He added that his attempts to balance the budget during the Clinton presidency required a great deal of finesse that no other candidate possesses.
"I’m the only person on this stage who actually was the chief architect of balancing the federal budget," he said.
Cruz said he plans to abolish the IRS due to inherent corruption, while maintaining a Department of Treasury to collect revenue. He also plans to have a flat tax.
Trump also took heat for manufacturing his clothing in China and Mexico when he had promised to keep jobs in America. He argued in defense that his clothing was being manufactured abroad because those countries had manipulated their currencies.
"You ask him a question and he doesn't answer back; he tries going back to 'this little guy' argument," Rubio said.
One moderator argued that Trump's proposed cuts in the Department of Education and Medicare don't add up, but Trump dismissed this as incorrect.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio argued that Trump never answers the questions because he doesn't have any answers, to which Trump answered by pointing out Rubio's inexperience in managing other individuals. He also said that Trump's foreign policy experience only consists of business negotiations.
However, this is not valid foreign policy experience, both Rubio and Cruz argued.
"I think the American people understand that yelling and cursing at people doesn’t make you a tough guy," Cruz said.
Cruz invoked sentiments from Reagan's presidency, arguing that he would rebuild the military so that terrorist cells would fear consequences that might arise from any further attacks on a stronger United States.
Kasich noted that although Cruz talked about Reagan's presidency, he did not have direct experience in working with Reagan. He continued to argue that he is the most qualified presidential candidate.
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson did not take part in the debate. However, he has not officially announced any plans to withdraw from the race.
"I do not see a political path forward in light of last evening's Super Tuesday primary results; however, this grassroots movement on behalf of 'We the People' will continue," he said.
The debate, which took place at 9:00 p.m. EST in Detroit, Mich., was moderated by Fox News' Megyn Kelly, anchor of The Kelly Files, along with Fox Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday Anchor Chris Wallace. The debate was sponsored by Fox News.
The Michigan Republican primary will be held next Tuesday.