Three of the remaining Republican presidential candidates, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, stated on Thursday that they would back Donald Trump should he become the nominee, despite condemning the same man they vowed to support during the mudslinging brawl of a debate as Trump repeatedly unleashed personal insults, and even at the start of the debate, vulgar sexual innuendo.
During the evening, Trump repeatedly referred to Rubio as “little Marco,” a hated man who couldn’t even “be elected dog catcher,” and interrupted Cruz on numerous occasions to refer to him as “lying Ted.”
As Rubio expressed concerns about the class action lawsuit surrounding Trump University, stating that it was questionable to elect a man who is accused of consumer fraud, Trump responded by bashing Rubio.
“He’s trying to con people into giving him their vote just as he conned those people,” Rubio said.
“If we nominate Donald, we’re going to spend the fall and the summer with the Republican nominee facing a fraud trial,” Cruz added.
“The real con artist is Marco Rubio,” Trump lashed out. “The people of Florida can’t stand him. He couldn’t be elected dog catcher.”
“This little guy has lied so much about my record,” he said at another point, also stating that Rubio has “scammed the people of Florida.”
“You ask him a question about the economy and the first thing he does is go into the little guy thing. And he wants to be president of the United States of America,” Rubio remarked.
“Don’t worry about it, little Marco,” Trump responded.
“Don’t worry, big Donald,” Rubio replied.
As Cruz pressed Trump to release his off-the-record discussion with the New York Times, Trump repeatedly chimed in, “Liar … the lying guy up here … lying Ted.”
Cruz became exasperated with Trump’s interruptions and asked him to control himself.
“You’ve got to learn not to interrupt. Count to ten, Donald. Count to ten,” he said at one point, later stating, “You can do it. You can breathe. I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard.”
Co-moderator Chris Wallace scolded the candidates as the fighting continued back and forth.
“Gentlemen, you’ve got to do better than this,” he said.
Within the first few minutes of the debate, the audience was taken aback as Trump made a sexual reference on stage in referring to a remark that Rubio had made during the week at a campaign rally.
But despite being repeatedly bashed as a little man who couldn’t even win a bid for dog catcher, at the end of the evening, when asked if he would support Trump if he becomes the nominee, Rubio pledged his support.
“Yes,” he said. “Democrats have a socialist and someone under FBI investigation running.”
Cruz, despite being referred to as “lying Ted” throughout the evening, also agreed to support Trump.
“Yes, because I gave my word that I would,” he said.
John Kasich, who remarked that he attempts to rise above the insults, agreed to back Trump as well—although reluctantly.
“Yeah. But I kind of think that, before it’s all said and done, I’ll be the nominee,” he said.
Trump has been resisted by a number of Christian leaders in part due to his repeated practice of unleashing personal insults on anyone in his way.
“Donald Trump is the only candidate who has dealt almost exclusively in the politics of personal insult,” Mark DeMoss of the public relations firm DeMoss, told the Washington Post this week. “The bullying tactics of personal insult have no defense, and certainly not for anyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. That’s what’s disturbing to so many people.”