After Donald Trump met his unexpected match in Marc Rubio last Thursday, the next Republican debate — this one broadcast by Fox News — promises to be a wild, explosive affair with the Florida senator, along with Texas Senator Ted Cruz, ripping into Trump is last-ditch attempt to cut into the front-running New York real estate mogul’s lead in the 2016 Republican primary race.
The next Fox News Republican debate may turn out to be the last chance for Trump’s Republican rivals to turn around what appears to be the unstoppable trajectory of Donald Trump toward the party’s nomination — a juggernaut that Republican party leaders have suddenly become desperate to stop, after failing to take Trump seriously until he walked away with the South Carolina Republican primary last Tuesday.
Rubio used last week’s Republican debate to launch an all-out attack on Donald Trump, as seen in the video below.
The verbal brawl continued on the campaign trail for both men into Saturday, often degenerating into what The New York Times called “playground insults,” with Rubio slamming Trump as a “con man” and the billionaire ridiculing Rubio for excessive sweating and “big ears.” See the videos below for excerpts from each candidate’s campaign rallies on February 27.
According to a report in The New York Times on Saturday, as far back as last autumn, top Republican strategists drafted a memo outlining plans to attack and derail Trump’s candidacy, planning a SuperPAC that would have the sole mission of taking down Trump.
But Republican donors remained strangely unconcerned about the threat posed by Trump to the entrenched Republican power structure, and the SuperPAC failed to attract financial support from GOP money men.
But now with Trump winning three of the four Republican contests so far, and set to take all of the 12 Super Tuesday states, with the exception of Texas, on March 1, there is a “desire verging on panic” among party leaders to put an end to Trump’s campaign, according to South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who had been a supporter of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, until Bush dropped out of the race, unable to contend with months of sustained verbal assaults from Donald Trump.
According to the Times story, Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is now trying to sell a plan to other Republicans that would have GOP Senators “break” with Trump, if the flamboyant 69-year-old captures the party’s nomination, a likelihood that now appears almost inevitable.
What a “break” with Trump would look like remains unclear. While it seems unthinkable that Republicans would throw support behind the Democratic candidate, likely Hillary Clinton, it appears that almost anything is possible in this highly unusual campaign.
According to the polling averages compiled by Real Clear Politics, Trump is set for a massive victory on Super Tuesday. While Ted Cruz is ahead in his home state of Texas by 7.2 percentage points — with Trump still well within striking distance — Trump leads in every other state where significant polling exists.
In Virginia, Trump leads by 15 points, and in supposedly liberal Massachusetts, the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame member holds a crushing 26-point lead over second-place Rubio.
Trump holds a slimmer lead of seven points in Oklahoma — and a 15.7 point lead over Rubio in Georgia.
In another move clearly intended to put Trump on the spot, Both Rubio and Cruz, on Saturday, released their last five years of tax returns to the public, after calling on Trump to do so as well. But Trump has refused to release his tax information, claiming that he is the midst of an Internal Revenue Service tax audit and to make his tax information public would be inappropriate.
Tax experts throughout the media agree that no sane person would give their tax returns during an audit. After the audit, no problem!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2016
In a statement on Friday, however, an IRS spokesperson said that “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.”
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Political junkies will want to watch the drama play out at the next Republican debate, sponsored by Fox News and held at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan, on Thursday, March 6. The debate will be the 11th Republican debate overall in the 2016 presidential campaign and is scheduled to go on air at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, 6 p.m. Pacific. Fox News will offer a live stream at this link.
[Featured Photo By Pool Photographer/Getty Images]