Donald Trump returned to face Ted Cruz in Saturday’s New Hampshire Republican debate after Trump turned his back on last week’s Republican debate in Iowa and subsequently lost the GOP caucuses to Cruz in that state. But it was a wild and brutal exchange between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Senator Marco Rubio that stole the show.
Rubio, after a third-place finish in the Iowa caucus, had been considered the leading “establishment” candidate with a chance to pill ahead of Trump and Cruz. But Christie may have destroyed whatever chance Rubio had on Saturday, ridiculing the senator for reciting “memorized speeches,” to which Rubio could muster no response other than to repeat the same apparently pre-prepared lines at least three times.
In the other most memorable exchange of the debate, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush slammed Trump over his use of eminent domain laws to build his real estate empire, taunting the mogul over what Bush said was his use of eminent domain to seize private property from an elderly woman “to turn into a limousine parking lot for his casinos.”
Trump responded by ordering Bush to be “be quiet,” and when the audience booed him, Trump reacted by accusing the crowd members of being campaign donors, which Trump said was “the reason they don’t love me.”
Watch a full replay of the eighth Republican Presidential Debate in the following video.
In a somewhat surprising development, however, Cruz may not turn out to be Trump’s most formidable challenger in New Hampshire, so the anticipated fireworks between the real estate billionaire and the Texas Tea Party favorite may not materialize on the debate stage at St, Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Saturday evening.
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Instead, polls show a late surge by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who finished third in Iowa. Rubio now occupies second place in New Hampshire — as compiled by Real Clear Politics in that site’s average of major polls. But the 44-year-old senator, seen by political experts as the favorite of the GOP “establishment,” still trails Trump by a wide margin, as the choice of 15.1 percent of New Hampshire GOP voters, compared to 31.1 percent for Trump in the Real Clear Politics average.
Ted Cruz now sits at third, with 11.7 percent.
To find out how to watch the eighth Republican presidential debate, streaming live from New Hampshire, see the streaming links in the final paragraph of this article, or view the debate on this page in the video, above.
To warm up for a possible Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz showdown, watch highlights of their last on-stage showdown, from the Fox Business News debate that took place January 14, in the video below.
One candidate, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, is polling so poorly in New Hampshire and across the nation that ABC News, the co-sponsor and broadcaster of the Saturday debate, excluded her from participating.
ABC is the first major, “over the air” TV network to broadcast a debate during the 2016 presidential campaign and unlike in previous debates, has eliminated the so-called “undercard” debate that allowed low-polling candidates to engage in a televised debate of their own prior to the main event.
One candidate who absolutely must score big in the Saturday debate is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has poured most of his campaigning time and resources into New Hampshire, essentially taking up residence there over the past several weeks, only to see his poll numbers in the state plummet.
Known for his bellicose, aggressive antics and rhetoric, Christie could be expected to provide at least some moments of drama at the New Hampshire Republican Debate.
As of Friday, February 5, the election-predicting site FiveThirtyEight — which employs a sophisticated statistical formula to calculate each candidate’s chances of winning an election — gave Christie a virtually zero probability of winning the February 9 New Hampshire primary.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, enjoyed a 75 percent chance of victory according to the FiveThirtyEight formula. Rubio came in next at 12 percent and Cruz a remote third with a mere 6 percent chance of pulling out a second consecutive upset.
To watch the Saturday, February 6, New Hampshire Republican debate streaming live online, click on the first video above on this page, or use the stream provided by ABC Go at this link, or ABC News Go at this link, with an alternative streaming link for debate coverage found here.
[Featured Photo By Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]