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GOP Debate Gets Super Ugly Before Candidates Head to Super Tuesday

TheWrap brings you the snarkiest jabs from the Houston stage as well as the Twitterverse

Thursday’s CNN Republican debate in Houston had Texas-sized stakes and delivered some super-sized brawls.

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz took their best shots at Donald Trump, after his dominant performance in the Nevada caucuses, where he won his third straight state.

For weeks, Rubio resisted taking on The Donald, who has managed to eviscerate other Republicans who threatened him in the past. But that was no longer the case during the final GOP debate before Super Tuesday, with Rubio delivering some harsh blows, attacking Trump on immigration, foreign policy and health care.

Meanwhile, Ben Carson Carson had millions of viewers scratching their heads in confusion when he pulled out the phrase “the fruit salad of their life” as he reflected on potential Supreme Court nominations. But along with Ohio Gov. John Kasich failed to make an impression.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer moderated the debate, with Telemundo’s Maria Celeste Arraras, talk radio host Hugh Hewitt and CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash contributing throughout the televised event.

TheWrap had you covered with snarkiest, funniest and most memorable moment from Twitterverse and on stage:

And we’re off…

5:25: Some people are amped up for the debate…


Others… not so much.


5:27: Top trending questions right now:

5:29: Donald Trump is in the house…

5:32: Former president George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush are in attendance.

5:36: No traffic jam as candidates take the stage… much to the chagrin of this person:

5:35: Someone already has a complaint…

5:41: This person is live tweeting his wife’s comments.


5:46: Trump says our boarders are like “Swiss cheese.”

5:52: Cruz welcomes the audience to Texas.

5:53: Trump hits Romney over his recent comments suggesting there’s a “bombshell” in Trump’s taxes.

ICYMI: Hers is what Romney said about Trump…

5:56: Rubio hits Trump over reports that he’s pursued more than 500 visas for foreign workers at his Florida resort since 2010. It’s getting nasty out there…



6:00: Trump gets mad at Cruz.

6:03: Asked about former Mexican President Vincente Fox’s comments earlier today saying, “I’m not gonna pay for that fu–ing wall,” Trump said this…

This is what Fox said about the wall…

6:06: Some people really liked this exchange…

6:15: Telemundo’ María Celeste Arrears argues with Rubio over DREAMers (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors). She says he’s views differ when he speaks Spanish.

Rubio says he’s always been consistent.

Trump tries to stir things up, says Rubio lied.

“He lied, 100 percent.”

Rubio shoots back saying Trump lied to Polish workers and students of Trump University.

Trump defends himself by saying it was a long time ago…

“You lied to them eight years ago,” says Rubio. “I guess there’s a statute of limitations on lies?”

The audience cheers.

6:18: This line got a laugh…

6:22: Rubio tell Trump he’d be selling watches if it wasn’t for his father’s money.

6:30: Things are getting heated…

6:33: Cruz will not apologize for defending the Constitution…

6:38: Rubio and Trump are mixing it up and people on Twitter are surprised Rubio is holding his own.

6:42: Rubio tries to turn the tables on Trump, says Trump is the one repeating himself…

“I watched him repeat himself five times in the last five seconds,” Rubio says.

6:50:  This line could become a thing…

6:53: Trump talks taxes…

6:59: Trump… always thinking about ratings


6:59: Ouch.

7:01: What do you think?


7:02: Trump boasts about his poll numbers, saying that “a poll just came out in Bloomberg where I’m beating him so badly, I’m embarrassed.”

“Hillary Clinton, take a look at USA Today,” he says. “I beat her and I beat her badly… and I haven’t even started with her…”

Cruz goes on the attack, says Trump was a Clinton admirer in the past.

“On substance, how do we nominate a candidate who said Hillary Clinton was the best secretary of state of modern times?” Cruz asks.

Cruz insists Trump can’t “beat [Clinton] on the debate stage and the polls.”

But Trump has a good comeback: “If I can’t beat her you’re really going to get killed won’t you.”

He then tells Rubio and Cruz to “keep swinging for the fences.”

7:05: We didn’t notice but now we can’t look away…


7:14:Trump is “very pro-Israel”


7:16: Good line from Rubio…

7:23: Carson complains that he’s not given enough time… again.

7:30: Yeah Carson actually said that…

7:35: GOP debate officially goes off the rails.

7:53: Closing arguments:

Carson: What kind of leader do you want? Think about that. A movie has been made about these hands (shows his hands). Asks America to join these hands.

Kasich: I hope you saw tonight that executive experience really matters. Done it Washington, done it in Ohio. I hope you all think about giving me your vote. I will hit the ground running.

Rubio: Thank you of having us tonight. This campaign has gone a long way. The time for games is over. Now it’s time to narrow it down. Gives his website address. Bring an end to the silliness and “looniness.”

Cruz: Washington deals are bankrupting this country. Only one person on this stage who has consistently stood up to both parties. I will rescind unconstitutional executive actions, will instruct government to open investigation on Planned Parenthood, persecution of religious liberty ends today. I will move Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, secure the border, bring back jobs.

Trump: Nobody knows politicians better than I do. All talk, no action. Nothing gets done. I will get it done. We will make America great again.

In conclusion… we leave you with these words from Carson: