Trump Bests Cruz as GOP Candidates Head for Iowa Caucus Showdown

Donald-Trump-debates.jpgIt was billed as a battle of the two so-called heavyweights among Republican Party Presidential candidates. The winner?  There was no doubt New York real estate billionaire and front-runner Donald Trump beat Texas Sen. Ted Cruz by a country mile at the sixth GOP primary debate in North Charleston, SC Thursday night.

It wasn't a technical knockout but Trump out-quipped lawyer Cruz on several issues, especially on the thorny subject of the Senator's citizenship status. Trump argues Cruz shouldn't even be in the nominee race because he was born in Canada and not in the United States.

Cruz is a naturalized American citizen. His mother was American; his father, Cuban. But Cruz gave up his Canadian citizenship years ago.

Trump maintains all that doesn't count because his (Trump's) reading of the U.S. Constitution states a person running for the Presidency must have been born in the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on this issue.

Although he previously said when the citizenship subject first came up last week, he wouldn't give Trump more ammunition on the subject, Cruz couldn't hold back Thursday night.

"Back in September, my friend Donald said he had his lawyers look at this in every which way," Cruz said. "There was nothing to this birther issue."

He added: "Since September, the Constitution hasn't changed. But the poll numbers have."

Depending on which poll you see at the moment, Trump still leads Cruz in Iowa, about 40 percent to 35 percent but Cruz has climbed rapidly from about 15 percent only six weeks ago. That has caught Trump's attention.

The other five candidates, except for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 15 percent, remain in single digit status. They are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired Detroit neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Unless one or more drop out, all seven will be vying for the backing of the Iowa caucuses Feb. 1 and the New Hampshire primary vote Feb. 9, 2016.

The caucuses, Democrat and Republican, in each of the 99 Iowa counties, have served in the past as an early indication of which Presidential candidates might win the nomination of their party at the party's national convention later in the year.

All seven candidates were trying hard to make a strong impression Thursday night to bolster their Iowa backing chances, but Trump and Cruz clearly owned the stage, as the crowd at the North Charleston Coliseum quickly understood.

However, all seven provided interesting, although not headline-making closing statements at the conclusion of the two-hour event.

For example, Kasich said, if elected President, he continue his work to help hard-working Americans.

Bush said, to be elected President, credibility counts. He said he would build a safer and stronger America.

Christie used his closing statement to blast President Barack Obama. He called Obama's State of the Union speech was a "fantasy-land."

Carson said that because so many Americans are discouraged and angry, traditional politics won't solve the country's problems.

Rubio warned the U.S. is changing and people feel left behind. He charged that if Hillary Clinton is elected, the next four years will be worse than the last eight.

Cruz directed his closing statement at military members and their families. If elected, he said he would bring more troops home than Obama currently has ordered.

Trump said if he won the Presidency, he would make sure the U.S. would no longer make "stupid deals" with any country.

Although he said he hadn't planned on making Cruz's citizenship issue "a major event," Trump still opening the debate with a solid punch.

"You are a liability as a candidate," he told Cruz.

Cruz shot back. He said, "On the issue of citizenship, Donald, I'm not going to use your mother's birth against you."

Trump replied, "Because it wouldn't work."

Trump's mother was born in Scotland. "But I was born in the United States," barked Trump.

"I'm not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump," Cruz, a Harvard Law graduate and former Supreme Court clerk, responded.

In another flare-up, Trump chastised Cruz for his negative remark on "New York values." Trump received crowd applause after noting New York City's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York," Trump said.

"The people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, and even the smell of death. Nobody understood it. And it was with us for months, the smell in the air."

Trump's statement followed an attack by Cruz in which he said that "New York values" were socially liberal, and tied to money and the media. He said Trump represented those values, and so was not associated with the values of early-voting states such as South Carolina, where the debate was held.

"I have to tell you, that was a very insulting statement that Ted made," Trump said.

They'll go at it again in the seventh GOP debate scheduled for Jan. 28 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, IA. Fox Business Network will host that event as it did in this debate.

The seven candidates could shrink in number again at that time.

And that's the way it is at this moment.

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