Was the GOP Debate Better Without Trump?

Was last night’s GOP presidential debate more substantive without Donald Trump, less entertaining, or both?

Trump boycotted the debate and held his own event, a fundraiser for wounded veterans, which he claimed generated $6 million.

Two of the topics debated at the main event were Obamacare and illegal immigration.

“If I am elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare,” Sen. Ted Cruz said to applause. “Now, once that is done, everyone agrees we need health care reform. It should follow the principles of expanding competition, empowering patients, and keeping government from getting between us and our doctors.” 

He laid out three reform principles: allow people to buy health insurance across states lines, expand health savings accounts, and work to de-link health insurance from employment.

Sen. Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio sparred, once again, over illegal immigration. Sen. Rubio accused Sen. Cruz of flip-flopping.

“This is the lie that Ted’s campaign is built on. Throughout this campaign, you’ve been willing to say and do anything in order to get votes.”

Sen. Cruz in turn accused Sen. Rubio of supporting amnesty for illegal aliens but now claiming otherwise for political gain.

While the debate was going on, Trump was holding court elsewhere. From Reuters:

Trump’s gamble that he could leave the battlefield to his rivals for one night appeared to pay off, with just days to go before Iowa holds the first nominating contest of the 2016 election season. No one appeared to emerge as a central challenger to him during the two-hour face-off in Des Moines.

Without Trump on stage, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie found themselves with more room to make their case to voters seeking a more mainstream candidate.

Trump’s rivals mocked his decision to sit out the debate and found ways to criticize him.

“I’m a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly, and Ben, you’re a terrible surgeon,” Cruz told his rivals, including Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, as the debate opened. His next sentence began: “Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way.”

Who do you think won last night’s debate?

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