Trump leads as rivals gang up on Rubio

Washington, Feb 6 (IANS) Ahead of Tuesday’s crucial primary in New Hampshire, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump returned to the debate stage to assert that he has “the best temperament” to be America’s next commander in chief.

Trump, whose absence from the last Republican debate apparently pushed him to the second place in last week’s Iowa caucuses, had a relatively good time Saturday night as his rivals ganged up on newly resurgent Senator Marco Rubio.

And when Texas senator Ted Cruz who has been crowing about the real estate mogul’s “Trumper Tantrums” since besting him in Iowa declined to repeat his attacks on the ABC News debate, Trump noted, “If you noticed, he didn’t answer your question.”

Rubio, on the other hand, was seriously rattled by the attack from his rivals, particularly New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who painted him as someone who delivers soaring speeches but has never made a consequential decision in his political life.

“Marco, the thing is this,” Christie said=, “when you’re president of the United States, when you’re a governor of a state, the memorized 30-second speech where you talk about how great America is at the end of it doesn’t solve one problem for one person.” Christie said.

Christie also slammed Rubio’s poor attendance record in the Senate. “That’s not leadership, that’s truancy,” Christie said.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, was booed during an exchange with Jeb Bush about eminent domain that allows a government or private entity to appropriate land or property in return for payment of compensation, when he asked the former Florida governor to be quiet.

The billionaire then turned on the audience, suggesting it was made up of party figures and big donors and was therefore biased against him — and the booing escalated.

The tough talking Trump also got support on his stand on immigration from Cruz.

“We’re going to build a wall. We’re going to triple the border patrol,” he said. “We’re going to increase — and actually, since Donald enjoyed that, I will simply say, I’ve got somebody in mind to build it.”

Trump also vowed to bring back the outlawed controversial practice of waterboarding euphemistically called as enhanced interrogation. “I would bring back waterboarding and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” he declared.

Bush also added to the Rubio criticism, saying that Americans shouldn’t gamble on a candidate who doesn’t have executive experience.

“Marco Rubio is a gifted politician and he may have the skills to be president of the United States,” Bush said.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, meanwhile, laid into Ted Cruz for his campaign incorrectly telling Iowa caucus goers that Carson would be dropping out of the race after Iowa and asking them to instead support him.

Carson said Saturday that the actions of Cruz’s campaign were an example of “Washington ethics” as he tried to portray himself and not Cruz as a true outsider candidate. Cruz tried to defuse the clash by saying, “Ben, I am sorry.”

The latest CNN/WMUR tracking poll of likely Republican primary voters published Friday found Trump dominating the race.

There is a fierce battle for second unfolding between Rubio at 17 percent, and Cruz and Ohio governor John Kasich, who are tied for third place with 13 percent. The three, however, are within the poll’s margin of error of 5.8 percentage points.

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