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Election 2016

Rubio, Cruz Turn Heavy Fire On Trump At UH Republican Presidential Debate

The senators from Florida and Texas hammered the frontrunner over his immigration record in the final GOP candidates’ matchup before Super Tuesday.

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The Republican presidential candidates squared off Thursday night at the University of Houston. It was the final debate before Super Tuesday, when Republicans will vote in a dozen states, including Texas.

Houston Public Media's Coverage of Election 2016

Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016

Much of the debate boiled down to who could hit Donald Trump the hardest. Texas Senator Ted Cruz bashed the frontrunner over his past donations to Democratic candidates. Florida Senator Marco Rubio went after Trump's business record, citing his four bankruptcies. Both attacked the billionaire over his record on immigration — as in this exchange between Rubio and Trump, courtesy of CNN:

Rubio: "I also think that if you're going to claim that you're the only one that lifted this into the campaign, that you acknowledge that, for example, you're the only person on the stage that's ever been fined for hiring people to work on your projects illegally. You hired some workers from Poland..."

Trump: "No, I'm the only one on the stage that's hired people. You haven't hired anybody."

Rubio by far came off as the most aggressive candidate on the Moores Opera House stage. But if the debate exposed chinks in Trump's armor, it's not clear the Florida senator is in the best position to exploit them.

"I think tonight Donald Trump lost a lot of votes. But let me be clear about this, that any votes that Donald Trump is losing tonight are not going to a member of the Gang of Eight," says Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the Cruz campaign. In 2013, Rubio joined a bipartisan group of eight senators to craft an immigration reform bill, an effort Cruz opposed.

Most polls show Cruz with a sizable lead over Trump in Texas and Rubio a distant third, while in Rubio's home state of Florida, the senator is trailing the billionaire.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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