Under constant pressure from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), businessman Donald Trump added more specificity to his rhetoric during the last Republican presidential debate in Houston.

With immigration and healthcare dominating the discussion, Trump elaborated on how he would create a border and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Trump said the wall would cost around $10-12 billion and would stretch across 1,000 miles. He added that there is a $58 billion trade imbalance between Mexico and the United States. For this reason, he said he would have Mexico pay for the wall.

“Mexico will pay for it because they are not doing us any favors,” Trump said. “They could stop all of this illegal trade if they wanted to immediately. Mexico will pay for the wall. It’s a small portion of the kind of money that we lose and the deficits that we have with Mexico.”

After Trump argued the issue of immigration wouldn’t be discussed if he had not raised awareness at the time he ran for president.

Rubio immediately criticized Trump for claiming sole responsibility in shedding light onto the border security.

“I think that if you're going to claim that you're the only one that lifted this [issue of immigration] into the campaign, that you acknowledge that, for example, you’re the only one on this stage that's ever been fined for hiring people to work on your projects illegally,” Rubio said.

Rubio then challenged Trump’s authenticity on immigration reform based on his previous business ventures.

“If he builds a wall the way he built Trump Towers, he’ll be using illegal immigrant labor to do it,” Rubio said.

Rubio consistently advised debate viewers to search “Donald Trump, polish workers” on Google.

Trump replied he was the only person on stage that has hired hundreds of people. He emphasized Rubio has not created enough jobs to prepare himself for the presidency.

Cruz, who has been critical over candidates for favoring amnesty of illegal immigrants, reestablished his anti-amnesty stance on immigration.

“We have always welcomed legal immigrants, but I think it's a mistake to forgive those that break laws,” Cruz said.

Rubio added he encourages a more diverse country but not at the expense of breaking the law. He then explained the Democratic Party is no longer a credible champion on diversity because all of three original nominees — former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were all white.

In contrast, the Republican Party field of nominees is much more racially diverse.

“I do think it’s amazing that on this stage tonight we have two descendants of Cuban origin and an African-American,” Rubio said. “We are the party of diversity, not the Democratic Party.”

As the debate progressed, healthcare reform took center stage, which allowed retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to participate more.

Carson said the government has a moral obligation to support those in need of assistance, but he criticized the general public’s dependence and sense of entitlement.

“Healthcare is not a right, but I do it is a responsibility for a responsible society and we are that.”

If elected president, Kasich said he would make healthcare more affordable by offering incentives to service providers that have low costs and good care.

“We are actually going to make payments to physicians and to hospitals who actually deliver healthcare with great quality at low prices,” Kasich said.

Trump elaborated on his claim of abolishing Obamacare by explaining how he would replace it. He said he would get rid of barriers between states to increase competition between insurance companies, which would help lower insurance premiums for the national population.

Rubio criticized Trump for repeating himself on state boundaries for insurance providers, but Trump alleged Rubio was hypocritical for criticizing a candidate on repeating oneself.

Though Carson and Kasich had the opportunity to express themselves on the issue of healthcare, they struggled to get as much speaking time because Rubio and Cruz constantly invoked Trump’s name. Per debate rules, Trump was allotted 30 seconds of response time.

Of the 95 minutes of total speaking time between the five candidates, Trump dominated with 30 minutes. Cruz ranked second with 20 minutes. Carson was at the bottom of the pack with just 10 minutes.

At one moment in the debate, Carson requested the other four candidates to attack him personally just so he could have the opportunity to talk.

Ben Carson: "Can somebody attack me, please?"

Posted by POLITICO on Thursday, February 25, 2016

The next Republican debate is scheduled for 9 p.m. Thursday on Fox News.


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